Georgia's Synovus Financial Corp. is planning to expand its presence in Florida.

The $10.5 billion-asset, multibank holding company said last week that it would buy Ready Bank of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., for about $16 million of stock.

Ready Bank would be merged into Synovus' Vanguard Bank and Trust subsidiary.

Vanguard, based in Valparaiso, Fla., would then have about $320 million of assets and 11 branches.

James H. Blanchard, the chairman and chief executive officer of Synovus, said the combined company should be able to better compete "in the growing Florida panhandle area."

This was the second deal announced in recent weeks by Synovus, which has 36 bank subsidiaries in four states in the Southeast.

On March 23 the company said it would buy Merit Holding Co. in Tucker, Ga., for about $109 million.

Both deals are expected to close in the third quarter.

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