A Florida investment group has canceled plans to buy Southern Commerce Bank in Tampa, according to a report by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Gries Investment Fund in Tampa no longer expects to buy the $80 million-asset bank, though it has not yet officially withdrawn its application, the newspaper reported Tuesday. Gries agreed in December to pay $15.1 million to acquire Southern Commerce from Dickinson Financial (DFC) in Kansas City, Mo. In March, the Federal Reserve Board approved the fund's request to form a holding company for the purchase.

"We are no longer actively pursuing the bank," Bob Gries, the fund's founder, told the newspaper. "We were unclear about whether we would be permitted by the Federal Reserve and the OCC and other regulatory agencies to do what we planned to do. I frankly was just not going to commit investors' capital in an uncertain situation."

Gries Investment Fund executives were not available for comment. Representatives of Southern Commerce and Dickinson did not immediately respond to requests for comment

Anthony Leo, a member of Gries' investment group and the former interim chief executive of Old Harbor Bank in Clearwater and Peninsula Bank in Sarasota, would have become Southern Commerce's CEO following the deal. He had been interim CEO at Home Federal Bank of Hollywood until the company named a permanent CEO last month.

Southern Commerce has four traditional branches and six locations in Wal-Mart stores.

Dickinson is a $2.1 billion-asset company with four bank subsidiaries in addition to Southern Commerce.

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