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FirstBank acquires Atlantic Capital branches in Chattanooga region

APRIL 09, 2019

Chattanooga Times Free Press

April 8th, 2019by Dave Flessner

The third biggest bank in Tennessee expanded its presence in the Chattanooga market over the weekend, closing on its second acquisition of a rival bank in less than four years.

FirstBank, which opened a branch in Chattanooga in 2008 and bought the former Northwest Georgia Bank in 2015,completed its previously announced purchase of the Atlantic Capital Bank branches in East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia on Friday. Ten of the former Atlantic Capital branches reopened Monday as new offices of FirstBank, one of the fastest growing banks in Tennessee which is headquartered in Nashville.

“This is an outstanding addition in these dynamic markets that strengthens our position as Tennessee’s premier community bank,” FirstBank President Chris Holmes said Monday. “We appreciate the efforts that our friends at Atlantic Capital have made throughout this process, and I expect the integration to be a smooth one as we focus on continuing to deliver excellent customer service.”

The purchase will add $598 million in deposits and $385 million in loans for FirstBank, which already had about 5.7 billion in assets at the and of 2018.

But FirstBank is shutting down four local branches previously operated by Atlantic Capital on Gunbarrel Road in East Brainerd, on Highway 153 in Hixson, on Lee Highway in Ooltewah and in Warehouse Row downtown.

“Where FirstBank and Atlantic Capital Bank had overlapping branches, we consolidated those into the most convenient location for our combined customers,” FirstBank spokeswoman Jeanie Rittenberry said.

FB Financial Corp., the parent company of FirstBank, paid about $34.3 million to acquire the Tennessee and North Georgia branches of the Atlanta-based Atlantic Capital Bank. The purchase price paid by FirstBank was only a fraction of the $160 million that Atlantic Capital paid the former FSG Bank to acquire the same bank branches from the former FSG Bank in the fall of 2015.

Atlantic Capital later sold its trust business last year to a company organized by former FSG President Mike Kramer, who had negotiated the sale of FSG to Atlantic Capital after reviving the Chattanooga bank and raising new capital for its turnaround.

Douglas L. Williams, president and CEO of Atlantic Capital, said the sale of the bank branches to FirstBank provides employees of its Chattanooga, Knoxville and Dalton offices “a high-quality institution with an established presence in these markets” and will allow Atlantic Capital to refocus on its commercial banking operations in Atlanta.

“We have decided to pursue a strategy focused on our commercial banking opportunities in Atlanta and our other national commercial lines of business,” Williams said last fall when it announced the sale of the branches to FirstBank.

The sale was completed Friday and FirstBank put up all of its signs on its new branches over the weekend.

Combined with its $284.2 million purchase in 2017 of the Clayton Bank and Trust and American City Bank in Knoxville, FirstBank now operates 66 branches and is now the fifth biggest bank in Chattanooga and the sixth biggest bank in Knoxville, based on Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation data as of June 30, 2018.

FirstBank is headed in Chattanooga by market president Jim McKenzie and in North Georgia by Rick Partain.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340

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