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Tampa bank bought

Southern Exchange Bank will have a new name, First National Bank of Florida, as part of a $150-million deal.

By ALICIA CALDWELL, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 4, 2003


TAMPA -- Southern Exchange Bank, an 18-branch operation based in Tampa, is being bought by the corporate parent of First National Bank of Florida.

F.N.B. Corp. of Naples will pay more than $150-million in cash to acquire the outstanding shares of Charter Banking Corp., the holding company for Southern Exchange Bank.

Southern Exchange, a privately held commercial bank with $701-million in assets and $482-million in deposits, provides community banking and commercial lending services in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. It was originally chartered in 1923.

The acquisition is the 11th and largest acquisition by F.N.B. since it entered the Florida banking scene in 1997. Snapping up midsized community banks, F.N.B. is an active player in Florida's latest wave of bank acquisitions. It's a smaller-scale repeat of the acquisitions that created national megabanks such as Bank of America and Wachovia.

F.N.B. relocated its corporate headquarters from Hermitage, Pa., to Naples in 2001.

The Southern Exchange sale, which is expected to be completed in two months, will boost F.N.B. Corp.'s assets to $7.8-billion, making it the nation's 63rd-largest bank holding company and the largest with headquarters in Florida.

Once the merger is complete, Southern Exchange Bank branches will be rebranded as part of First National Bank of Florida. As a result, First National Bank will have approximately $3.4-billion in assets and 61 full-service branches statewide.

David A. Straz Jr., chairman of Southern Exchange Bank and the sole shareholder of Charter Banking Corp., will be given a seat on the board of directors of F.N.B. Corp.

"This acquisition fits perfectly with our strategic plan for growth in the Florida market," said Gary L. Tice, president and chief executive officer of F.N.B. Corp. "It is a natural extension of our successful banking operations in the Clearwater area and gives us a foothold in the Tampa market, which is one of the most economically diverse in all of Florida. It also expands the opportunities for marketing our many fee-based services."

-- Alicia Caldwell can be reached at (727)893-8145 or Alicia@sptimes.com

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