reliant

A South Carolina bank holding company that made a foray into Middle Tennessee last decade has signed an agreement to buy Reliant Bancorp, the fourth-largest bank based in the region, for more than $500 million.

The leaders of Brentwood-based Reliant and United Community Banks expect their all-stock deal worth $517 million to close in the first quarter of next year. The agreement values Reliant shares (Ticker: RBNC), which closed Tuesday’s session at $27.63, at $30.58 apiece.

In terms of deposit market share in the greater Nashville area, Reliant ranked 10th as of June 30 of last year, with its 19 area offices home to more than $1.9 billion. (The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will release new data in a few months.) Among locally based institutions, it trails only market leader Pinnacle Financial Partners, FirstBank and Wilson Bank & Trust. In all, the 15-year-old bank — which also has offices in Clarksville and Chattanooga and a manufactured housing finance group in Knoxville — had total assets of $3.1 billion at the end of March.

“By joining forces with United, we recognize an opportunity to align ourselves with a partner that shares our passion for providing high-quality customer service, and to leverage their larger balance sheet and a broader set of products and services for our customers,” Chairman and CEO DeVan Ard Jr. said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Becoming part of United’s team-oriented, high-performance culture presents a unique opportunity for Reliant, and we consider it a privilege.”

Ard is staying on with United as its Tennessee state president.

Headquartered in Greenville, United Community (Ticker: UCBI) has $18.6 billion in assets and runs 161 offices in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company, which also operates national SBA and equipment lending businesses, first moved into the Nashville market in 2013 by recruiting a handful of veteran health care lenders. That team built a $190 million portfolio by the fall of 2015, when fellow regional bank Hancock Holding Co. bought that book of business.

“Partnering with Reliant is consistent with our strategy to expand into high-growth Southeastern markets with companies that share our focus on employee experience, customer service, and community engagement,” said Lynn Harton, United’s chairman and CEO. “We have had a strong interest in strengthening our Tennessee franchise for several years and are excited to enter the state’s best market.”

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