United Community Banks in Blairsville, Ga., has agreed to buy a national equipment finance firm.

The $12 billion-asset United said in a press release Monday that it will pay $130 million in cash and stock for NLFC Holdings, the parent company for Navitas Credit in Ponte Vedra, Fla. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.

United said in a separate press release that it will issue $85 million in subordinated notes to help pay for the acquisition. The notes are due in January 2028.

Navitas provides equipment finance to small and midsize businesses. It had $350 million in loans and leases on Sept. 30. The firm has serviced more than 17,000 finance contracts for roughly 14,500 clients with a total original value of more than $750 million.

Navitas was founded in 2008 by Gary Shivers, who spent 11 years as president of Marlin Business Services.

Navitas, which will operate as a separate unit of United's bank, will continued to be overseen by its management team.

H. Lynn Harton, chief operation officer at United Community Banks Inc.
United Community wants to expand into more specialty lending lines, President Lynn Harton said.

“This transaction is consistent with our commitment to grow our specialty and commercial lending business," Lynn Harton, United’s president, said in the release. “Navitas will be a strong strategic addition to our existing platforms, providing attractive risk-adjusted returns and enabling us to further expand our client offerings.”

The acquisition should be accretive to United's earnings per share by about 20 cents in the first full year of operations.

Morgan Stanley and Troutman Sanders advised United. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Greenberg Traurig advised Navitas.

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