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POSTED: February 5, 2008 5:02 a.m.
A bank founded in Hinesville 53 years ago, The Coastal Bank, and its parent Coastal Bankshares, Inc. recently signed an agreement that in effect merges parts of Greensboro-based BankSouth into Coastal.
“I think both Charlie and Glenn Bryant would approve of the deal,” Billy Jones, chairman of the Coastal Bank Board of Directors, said, referring to his former legal partner Charlie Jones and the founder of Coastal Communications.
Jones and Bryant, both now deceased, were the most visible of several Liberty County residents who organized The Coastal Bank in 1954. It later moved operations to Savannah but has kept a branch in Hinesville.
BankSouth has operated two offices in the Savannah market. The most visible part of the agreement to the public will be Coastal integrating BankSouth’s Savannah offices into its current operations, increasing its market share and creating an even more powerful community bank, according to a news release.
The announcement was made Thursday by J. Thomas Wiley Jr., president and chief executive officer of Coastal Bankshares and The Coastal Bank, and Harold Reynolds, chairman of the board of directors for BankSouth.
“I think that this merger will make us a stronger and more viable institution,” Billy Jones said. “I'm proud to say we originated in 1954 in Hinesville and we've continued to grow and thrive since that date.”
“We are extremely pleased to form a relationship with Harold Reynolds of the Reynolds Plantation family from Lake Oconee.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Thomas C. Hester, city president of BankSouth, will be named Savannah market president of Coastal. Wiley will continue as president and CEO of Coastal Bankshares.  
The transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both companies and is subject to the approval of BankSouth’s shareholders as well as customary regulatory approvals. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008 and is projected to be added to 2008 earnings.
The money part of the deal was not revealed.
Upon completion of this transaction, Coastal Bankshares, Inc. is projected to have total assets of approximately $420 million and will operate seven full-service banking offices in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties.
The board of directors for The Coastal Bank and for BankSouth will also combine into one organization comprised of business leaders from across coastal Georgia.
Jones believes joining forces will offer long-term and short-term benefits.
“The Coastal Bank has a bright future in coastal Georgia,” he said. “Together, our boards will create an even stronger, more powerful banking institution.”
Other area residents on the board, who helped negotiate the deal are Tom Ratcliffe and George Holtzman. Immediate past member Danny Norman was also instrumental, Jones said.
 

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