COLUMBUS, Ga. Synovus Financial Corp. said it had signed a definitive merger agreement with State Bancshares of Enterprise, Ala.

The merger will be effected by a tax-free exchange of common stock- and will be accounted for as a pooling of interests. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, pending approvals by regulators and by State Baneshares shareholders.

State Baneshares owns $62 million-asset Coffee County Bank, which operates five banking offices in three Alabama counties. Synovus said Coffee County Bank's performance is typical of what it is seeking in community banks. Last year it had a return on assets of 2.08%, return on equity of 25.11%, and nonperforming loans equal to 0.84% of gross loans.

The $5.7 billion-asset Synovus said it plans to merge Coffee County Bank with an affiliate in an adjacent county, Fort Rucker National Bank, to form Community Bank and Trust of Southeast Alabama. It would have more than $100 million of assets, nine banking offices in its four-county area, and a 14.2% share of the deposit market.

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