In context: The year year isn’t three weeks old yet and already a major business deal is on the boards. Rome-based Heritage First Bancshares is merging with First Chatsworth Bancshares to create a brand stretching from Paulding County into Chattanooga with offices in Rome, Cartersville, Adairsville, Calhoun, Dalton, Chatsworth and Eton. Ryan Earnest, president and CEO of Heritage and its parent company, will serve in those duties once the merger is finalized later this year. The deal brings in the lucrative I-75 corridor and a stronger regional positive in Floyd, Bartow and Gordon counties.
>The Bartow connection: Two years ago, First Chatsworth Bankshares announced plans to merger with Adairsville-based NorthSide Bancshares, which also had offices in Cartersville and Calhoun.
>Below: A Q & A about the merger.
Media release: First Chatsworth Bankshares Inc., parent of First National Community Bank, and Heritage First Bancshares Inc., parent of Heritage First Bank, jointly announced the execution of a definitive agreement under which FCBI and FNCB will merge with HFBI and Heritage First through an all-stock merger.
The combined organization’s Northwest Georgia branch footprint will include Rome and extend along I-75 from Cartersville to Dalton and east to Chatsworth and Eton. The combined organization will comprise approximately $500 million in assets, $445 million in deposits, 100 employees, 10 branches across five Georgia counties, and loan production offices in Paulding County and Chattanooga.
“We are incredibly excited about this partnership, which combines two community banks in Northwest Georgia, geographically connected, expanding the footprint for the customers of each bank,” said Johnny Waters, FNCB’s Chairman. “We also look forward to delivering significant long-term value for our combined shareholders as a result of this transaction.”
Dr. Ken Davis, Chairman of HFBI and Heritage First, commented, “This strategic business combination represents a significant milestone in our institution’s strategic planning initiatives and we are excited for the long-term value and opportunity this transaction creates for our shareholders.”
Ryan Earnest, HFBI and Heritage First President and CEO, who will assume both of those roles in the combined company following the transaction, noted, “I am very enthusiastic about the opportunities that will be generated through this partnership between our very customer-centric organizations. Our cultures, core values, and strategic visions align very well with each other, and we collectively remain extremely committed to the respective communities we serve.”
In addition, Brian Abercrombie, FCBI and FNCB’s CFO, will continue to serve in those roles for the combined organization and Chuck Thornton, HFBI and Heritage First’s CFO, will serve as the Chief Operating Officer for the combined organization.
The transaction, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, remains subject to approval by HFBI’s shareholders and approval by federal and state regulatory authorities as well as the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions provided in the merger agreement.
First Chatsworth Bankshares Inc. was advised by the law firm of Alston + Bird LLP. Heritage First Bancshares, Inc. was advised by Performance Trust Capital Partners, LLC, and the law firm of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP.
About First Chatsworth Bankshares Inc.: Founded in 1975, Chatsworth-based First National Community Bank, the wholly owned subsidiary of First Chatsworth Bankshares Inc., has $325 million in total assets and $285 million in total deposits. First National Community Bank currently operates seven full-service banking centers in Adairsville, Calhoun, Cartersville, Chatsworth, Dalton and Eton, Georgia, a mortgage office in Dalton and loan production offices in Paulding County and Chattanooga. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.fncbank.com.
About Heritage First Bancshares Inc.: Founded in 1904, Rome-based Heritage First Bank, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Heritage First Bancshares, Inc., has $175 million in total assets and $160 million in total deposits. Heritage First Bank currently operates three full-service banking centers in Rome. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.heritagefirstbank.com.
Heritage First Bank and First National Community Bank
Frequently Asked Questions About the Merger
Q: Why are Heritage First Bank and First National Community Bank merging?
A: Heritage First Bank and First National Community Bank are effectively and geographically aligned with similar business models that makes this partnership a great
fit. We proudly share similar values, cultures and relationship-focused philosophies to help our customers achieve financial success while preserving the spirit of community
banking. Our markets connect nicely together which will give the combined company’s customers the ability to transact business at numerous additional locations throughout
northwest Georgia. The increasing bank size will allow us to provide new and improved products and services to serve our customers’ needs.
Q: Is Heritage First Bank changing its name to First National Community Bank?
A: Yes, however Heritage First Bank will continue to operate under the same name until sometime in early to mid-2021. Heritage First Bank will merge into First National
Community Bank and while a new name is a big change, most other things will remain the same such as how we bank and the team our customers and community knows and
Q: Will I continue to bank with the same branches and branch staff I have now?
A: There will be no branch closings because of this merger. Our customers will continue to be serviced by the same great team at all Heritage First Bank and First National
Community Bank locations. Once the merger takes place, the combined organization will feature offices in Rome, Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton, Chatsworth, Eton, and loan
production offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Paulding County.
Q: How will the merger impact our customers?
A: Our customers will see minimal changes in their day-to-day banking. At this time, customers’ account numbers will stay the same; customers may continue to use the
same accounts, checks and deposit slips, ATM and/or debit cards, and online banking service. Given the similarities between the banks’ business models, a smooth transition
is anticipated with an enhanced ability to serve our customers more thoroughly and better with a heightened comprehensive scope of products and services from both
banks. If there are any account changes, our customers will receive written communications from us directly along with detailed instructions to ensure a smooth
Q; How will my deposit and loan accounts be affected? Will my account number change? Will I need new checks, deposit slips, or loan coupon books?
A: There will be no system conversions over the next six months. You will be notified as we get closer to that event. Customers will see minimal changes to their day-to-day
banking. At this time, customers’ deposit and loan account numbers will stay the same; customers may continue to use the same accounts, checks and deposit slips, and ATM
and/or debit cards, and loan coupon books. If there are any account changes, customers will receive written communications from us directly along with detailed
instructions to ensure a smooth transition.
Q: Can I use my current ATM and/or Debit Card?
A: Customers may continue to use their current ATM and/or debit cards and will see minimal changes to their day-to-day banking. At this time, customers’ account numbers
will stay the same and they may continue to use the same accounts, checks and deposit slips, and ATM and/or debit cards. After the time of merger, customers will have access
to multiple banking locations throughout northwest Georgia. If there are any account changes, customers will receive written communications from us directly along with
detailed instructions to ensure a smooth transition.
Q: Will drafts and direct deposits continue without interruption?
A: Yes, there is no need for customers to change direct drafts or direct deposits to their Heritage First Bank accounts. Customers will see minimal changes to their day-to-day
Q: Will Heritage First Bank customers be able to use the First National Community Bank locations? Can they begin banking with First National Community Bank right away?
A: Until the effective date of the system conversion, the two banks will continue to operate separately and “business as usual.” They should continue to visit their Heritage First
Bank locations and/or website. Following the system conversion, which is expected to take place during 3rd quarter of this year (2021), Heritage First Bank customers will be
able to bank at all First National Community Bank locations and vice versa throughout Northwest Georgia.
Q: Will the hours of bank operations change?
A: There will be no changes in office hours. Customers will continue to be serviced by the same great team at all Heritage First Bank and First National Community Bank locations
at the current hours posted for each.
Q: How will the merger affect FDIC insurance coverage on our customers’ deposits?
A: Deposits at each institution will continue to be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). FDIC deposit insurance covers all deposit accounts, including
checking and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit. The standard insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank,
for each account ownership category. Once the merger and conversions are complete, the separate deposit insurance of each of the banks is continued for a period of not less
than six months after the merger. This six-month grace period gives a depositor the opportunity to restructure his or her accounts, if necessary, with the combined bank.
Q: Will the combined bank remain a Community Bank?
A: Yes, the founding principles of both institutions are based on an exceeds-expectations delivery of products and services to its customers, community and team. These actions clearly support the traditional community banking model and will continue to be the hallmark of everything that we do.
Q: Who do I call if I have any questions about this announcement or my accounts?
A: Please contact your Account Officer directly or call 706-232-5600 where you will find a team of experienced individuals committed to meeting your needs.