Entegra merger to bring new name, products to the Upstate

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The merger of Entegra Financial Corp. and SmartFinancial Inc. to create a holding company with approximately $4 billion in assets and 47 bank branches across six Southeastern states will bring some changes to Entegra customers in the Upstate.

On Jan. 15, the parent companies of Entegra Bank and SmartBank announced a merger in which Franklin, North Carolina-based Entegra will be merged into Knoxville, Tennessee-based SmartBank. The transaction is expected to close midyear.

In the Upstate, Entegra Bank operates three branches that provide retail and commercial services at 501 Roper Mountain Road in Greenville, 602 N. Main St. in Anderson, and 110 S. Alabama Ave. in Chesnee. It also operates a loan production office at 145 Thomas Green Blvd. in Clemson that focuses on residential mortgages.

The headquarters of the new bank will be in Knoxville, with banking offices in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

Roger D. Plemens, Entegra’s president and chief executive officer, is expected to join the combined bank as president of the Carolinas unit, the companies’ news release stated.

David Bright, Entegra’s chief financial officer and treasurer, said the new, larger organization will be increasing its presence between the Georgia and North Carolina lines.

“As a result of the merger, we intend to significantly expand our commercial banking presence and resources in the Upstate,” he said in an email. “SmartBank is a commercially focused bank and is very excited to deploy resources and talent in the Upstate.”

A review of business-oriented offerings on each institution’s website showed a wide variety of commercial banking products.

Bright said the banks “will likely be expanding our residential mortgage business to include government loans and also plan to expand our Treasury services to business customers.”

In a message to the employees of both companies dated Jan. 15 and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the two banks said that systems conversion and rebranding activities are scheduled for next year.

“We will retain both bank names initially and then convert to the Smart name upon system conversion in early 2020,” Bright said.

The banks have no plans for changes to office locations and plan “no immediate changes” to staffing as they head into an integration process designed to achieve “needed efficiencies,” employees were told.

“This merger is a very important and strategic move for both banks,” the companies’ message to employees said. “The regulatory environment has become so financially burdensome, and the lending market so competitive, that banks today need size and scale to compete.”

The Entegra-SmartBank merger marks the sixth union of SmartBank and another institution since the Tennessee bank established its first office in Pigeon Forge in 2007.

As part of its agreement with Entegra, SmartFinancial will make a $1 million contribution to the SmartBank Foundation upon completion of the merger, with funds to be directed to charities in communities served by Entegra.

SmartFinancial’s common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the ticker symbol SMBK.

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