Guardian CU To Buy 2 Bank Offices

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MONTGOMERY, Ala.—Guardian Credit Union announced that it has reached an agreement with SouthCrest Financial Group to purchase its two Alabama offices and all related deposits and assets.



The sale, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in early 2017.

“We are pleased to be acquiring two branches from a bank that has similar values and culture,” said Heath Harrell, president and CEO of the $375-million Guardian Credit Union. “We are excited to join with like-minded employees and customers in Chilton County, as this is a win for all employees, customers, members and the community. The acquisition furthers our growth strategy and positions us as a premier credit union in Central Alabama.”

Guardian will pay a 5% deposit premium on the total deposits transferred, which are expected to be about $45 million, and purchase more than $6 million worth of loans.

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Michael Bell

The bank branches, one located in Clanton and the other in Maplesville, will give Guardian 14 locations across the state. While the CU has not made a final decision, it hopes to hire most if not all of the staff from the two branches.

Brian Schmitt, CEO of the $550-million SouthCrest Financial Group, said the sale will strengthen the asset portfolio of Guardian Credit Union while supporting SouthCrest Financial Group’s strategic plan to grow its private business banking operations in the Atlanta region.

“It’s a win-win for the two financial institutions and the two markets in which they focus their operations,” said Schmitt. “And, our employees and managers will be joining one of the most successful, distinguished and admired credit unions in the South.”

Schmitt, a veteran banker known for planning and executing successful growth initiatives, said the sale of the two branches is a key element of SouthCrest Financial Group’s long-term strategy to become a dominant provider of commercial banking services in the Atlanta metropolitan region. SouthCrest is based in Woodstock, Ga.

“I see a trend of deals like this becoming available,” said Michael Bell, attorney and counselor with Royal-Oak, Mich.-based Howard & Howard, who is representing Guardian. “Banks are seeing opportunity in shedding some of their branch network and CUs are finding value in acquiring them. I see activity in this area really picking up.”

Bell, one of the leading advisors to credit unions seeking to acquire banks and other businesses, has been part of 12 CU/whole bank deals, including one merger of a bank into a credit union.

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