Originally created 01/25/03

Georgia Bank & Trust Company reports increase in profit



The parent company of Augusta's largest locally owned bank ended 2002 with a 31.8 percent increase in profits from the previous year.

Georgia Bank Financial Corp. on Friday reported year-end net income of $6.01 million, or $2.51 per diluted share, compared with the $4.56 million, or $1.91 per share, reported during 2001.

The holding company of Georgia Bank & Trust Co. said its fourth-quarter earnings were $1.63 million, or 68 cents per diluted share, a 23.4 percent increase from the $1.32 million reported during the same period the previous year.

The company also said Friday that it has become the No. 2 bank in Richmond and Columbia counties based on market share data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The 13-year-old community bank held 14.2 percent of insured deposits in the two-county area, trailing only Wachovia Corp., which merged with First Union last year.

"This rate of growth clearly indicates the overwhelming acceptance of a (locally owned) financial institution," President and CEO R. Daniel Blanton said.

As of Dec. 31, Georgia Bank Financial reported assets of $569.8 million, loans of $396.7 million and deposits of $439.6 million, percentage increases of 18.3, 16.8 and 19.1, respectively.

Ronald L. Thigpen, the company's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the record year-end earnings were powered by interest income generated by the $57 million in loan growth and service charges from brisk mortgage business.

"The gain on the sale of mortgages was up 48.9 percent from the previous year," he said, adding that the bank originated more than $290 million in residential loans in the Augusta area.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or dcline@augustachronicle.com.