GB&T signs to change next month

South State Bank’s acquisition of Georgia Bank & Trust is complete. But for most customers, it won’t become real until President’s Day weekend when the metro Augusta’s second-largest bank officially converts to the new brand.

 

Signs at all 12 area Georgia Bank & Trust branch offices will be replaced with the Columbia -based bank’s blue, white and gold logo during the Feb. 17-20 holiday weekend.

“We’ll close on Friday with GB&T items in the lobbies and reopen on Tuesday with fully converted branches and new signage, paperwork and marketing materials,” Jay Forrester, president of the Augusta metro region for South State, said Monday.

Forrester, previously GB&T’s executive vice president and chief loan officer, will report to South State’s Chief Banking Officer John F. Windley under the deal, which closed Jan. 4.

GB&T’s holding company, South­­east­ern Bank Financial Corp., announced in June it agreed to be acquired by South State Corp. – the largest bank holding company in South Carolina. The stock deal, then valued at $335 million, resulted in Southeastern’s shareholders – primarily company executives and board members – receiving 0.73 shares of South State common stock in exchange for each Southeastern share.

GB&T board member Grey B. Murray has been appointed to the South State Corp.’s board. GB&T’s top two executives, CEO R. Daniel Blanton and President Ronald L. Thigpen, will serve during the merger transition in consulting roles as senior executive vice presidents for South State.

The President’s Day weekend also marks the electronic conversion of GB&T accounts to South State’s network. Forrester said the transition will be largely seamless to customers because checks, debit and credit cards and automated payments will continue to work as usual.

New cards and checks will be issued at a later date, Forrester said. “In a lot of cases, the customer won’t have to do anything at all,” he said.

South State is mailing a 12-page booklet and disclosure statement to existing GB&T customers this week to explain the transition and outline step-by-step instructions on how to use the company’s electronic banking products and services.

The acquisition boosts South State’s assets to nearly $11 billion and adds 12 retail branches – nine in Georgia and three in South Carolina – to its network of 116 offices throughout the Carolinas.

The merger trimmed more than 100 positions from the former GB&T’s operations departments, but virtually no branch office personnel were affected because the two banks had no overlap in the Augusta-Aiken area, where the merged organization is the market’s No. 2 bank behind Wells Fargo in terms of deposits, according to federal banking data.

“The branch folks will be the same,” Forrester said. “If you came in on Friday, you’ll see the exact same people there on Tuesday.”

 

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