United Community Banks (UCBI) in Blairsville, Ga., is preparing a major branch expansion in South Carolina.

The $7.4 billion-asset company announced this week that it is planning a branch in Greenville, S.C. Lynn Harton, United Community's chief operating officer, told the South Carolina Business News that the company wants to open more branches in the state over the next five years.

The goal is to become one of South Carolina's five biggest banks, he said.

TD Bank, which bought South Financial Group in Greenville, S.C., in 2010, is the state's fifth-biggest bank, with $3.4 billion in deposits and nearly 5% market share, according to June 2013 date from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Harton, was South Financial's president and chief executive when it was bought by TD Bank, said this week that United Community has not finalized its long-term plans for South Carolina. The company opened its first South Carolina branch in Greenville more than a year ago.

"We want to be a meaningful presence here in Greenville, which means probably at some point you've got to be in the top five," Harton said. "We really think we can build it out from the ground up."

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