SCBT scoops up First Federal for $302M in stocks

Courtesy: First Financial Holdings, Inc.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Founded in 1934 and based out of North Charleston, the company that owns First Federal, First Financial Holdings, Inc., has announced that they have agreed to merge with Columbia's South Carolina Bank and Trust.

Even though SCBT is the holding company, when the merger is complete later this year, and if shareholders agree, the newly formed bank will operate under the name First Financial Holdings, Inc.

The buyout will also put what were the seventh and eighth largest banks in fifth place behind Wells Fargo, Bank of America, BB&T and First Citizen's.

"We are pleased to announce that two of the Southeast's oldest, strongest and largest banks are merging to form a dynamic banking company. Our two banks complement each other significantly and, because of our size, earnings power and strength, we will be uniquely positioned to build a premier regional bank in the Southeast," said Robert R. Hill, Jr., president and CEO, SCBT Financial Corporation in a press release. "This partnership benefits our customers, shareholders and employees and is a unique opportunity to join two local community banks with a similar history and culture. We have admired and respected First Financial for a long time, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to build an even stronger company together."

First Federal has 66 locations across the Carolinas. Together the two companies will operate a network of 148 branches.

"For nearly 80 years, both SCBT and First Federal have consistently served the financial needs of our customers and we look forward to continuing this legacy," said R. Wayne Hall, president and CEO of First Financial. "We will collectively continue to deliver the highest level of service, while maintaining our community banking values. Together, we will collaborate to evaluate our strengths and work to leverage the best of each of our institutions."

Shareholders of First Financial will get 0.4237 shares of SCBT common stock for each share of FFCH common stock, which adds up to $18.30 per share. The total bill adds up to $302.4 million.

The merger agreement was unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company, but the merger still has to be approved by the shareholders.