United Community Bank’s lending services to grow through acquisition

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Greenville-based United Community Bank Inc., the holding company for United Community Bank, announced on Jan. 8 it agreed to purchase NLFC Holdings Corp. for $130 million.

NLFC is the parent company of Florida-based Navitas, a specialty lender founded in 2008 that provides equipment finance credit services to small and medium-sized businesses nationwide.

Navitas will continue to operate under its original banner as a separate subsidiary of the bank, and will be managed by the Navitas senior management team, United said.

As of Sept. 30, 2017, Navitas reported outstanding loans and leases of approximately $350 million in the aggregate comprised of a diversified group of business borrowers operating in multiple industries and geographic markets.

The company serviced more than 17,000 finance contracts valued at more than $750 million for 14,500 business customers.

“This transaction is consistent with our commitment to grow our specialty and commercial lending business,” said Lynn Harton, president of United and CEO of the bank, in a statement. “Navitas will be a strong strategic addition to our existing platforms, providing attractive risk-adjusted returns and enabling us to further expand our client offerings.”

Gary Shivers, president and CEO of Navitas, said his company had “enjoyed tremendous growth since its inception.”

To continue that growth, he said, the company needed “access to more permanent capital and lower cost funding.”

“Our partnership with the United team provides us with just that,” Shivers said in a statement. “Additionally, we are very excited about synergies that we believe exist between our commercial lending businesses. … This combination is clearly a win-win for both sides.”

United said 35 percent of the transaction will be paid in its common stock, with the remaining 65 percent paid in cash.

The company anticipates its earnings to increase by 20 cents per share during the first full year of operations. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter.

Morgan Stanley & Co. advised United, and Troutman Sanders served as its legal advisor. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods served as Navitas’ financial advisor, and Greenberg Traurig served as its legal advisor.

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