Clarification: Bank merger will not close the divestiture branches

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The Entegra Bank branches are slated to be sold prior to the merger with First Citizens. Until the merger, the branches will be open and operating. The agreement calls for the branches to continue to operate as banks even after the merger, but under a different name. photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Entegra Bank announced last week that part of a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with the Department of Justice three branches of Entegra Bank will have to be sold. The three branches that will be sold as part of the agreement will be Holly Springs (30 Hyatt Road, Franklin), Highlands (473 Carolina Way, Highlands) and Sylva (498 East Main, Sylva). 

While the branches are slated to be sold, they will remain open and operating as banking locations and all currently employees will continue to work at the same location. The three branches will be sold to an approved buyer, who will continue to operate the locations as a bank, just a different bank.

According to Entegra Bank CEO Roger Plemens, current banking customers who want to stay at their branches and switch banks to whomever purchases the three branches will not have to be transitions to First Citizens and then to the new buyer. Instead, the two transitions will occur simultaneously, allowing banking customers to either switch to First Citizens or whatever company purchases the three ranches.

The LOA provides that the parties may not exclude any customer relationships from the Divestiture except as expressly agreed with the DOJ. The Parties are also required to preserve, maintain, and continue to operate the branches until the sale. The bank may not reacquire the branches for five years following the sale. If the parties decide to close any of their branches in any of the counties in which a divestiture branch is located within three years of the close of the merger, any such branch must be sold or leased to a commercial bank.

Plemens said employee retention is an important aspect of the process, as the new buyer would want customers to be greeted with familiar faces, even if the name of the bank changes. Once a buyer is approved, Plemens said that an updated press release will be sent out announcing who will be taking over. 

First Citizens announced plans to purchase the Macon County-based Entegra bank in April, outbidding SmartFinancial, which had previously made an acquisition proposal.

First Citizens is in every North Carolina and South Carolina county where Entegra has a branch, though its Georgia presence will be a new addition to its network.

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