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Colonial Bank buys Florida's Premier

The Alabama bank is stepping up its presence in the state, and especially in the Tampa Bay area.

By STEVE HUETTEL
Published December 24, 2003

Once again an out-of-state institution has snapped up a Florida bank, this time a small one, to beef up its presence in the Sunshine State.

Colonial BancGroup, holding company for Colonial Bank, is buying P.C.B. Bancorp Inc., whose Premier Community Bank of Florida has seven branches in Pinellas County, for $141-million in stock and cash, the companies said Tuesday.

The Montgomery, Ala., company has assets of $15.8-billion and operates 270 branches in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas.

The acquisition helps Colonial's presence in Florida, where it is the sixth-largest bank with $4.9-billion in deposits, and especially in the Tampa Bay area. Colonial now has 16 branches in the region but only four in Pinellas.

P.C.B., which had assets of $664-million and deposits of $519-million as of Sept. 30, operates 16 branches through subsidiary banks in Largo, Venice, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers.

Colonial doesn't know if it will keep all of P.C.B.'s branches and employees, said Joe Chillura, chief executive for Colonial's Tampa Bay region. "Typically, the backroom stuff is consolidated," he said. "But we will have positions available for all good employees."

The company began as Pinellas Community Bank in 1985. It changed its name to Premier Community Bank of Florida after buying Anchor Savings Bank in 1988, forming the holding company P.C.B. at the same time.

The purchase price will be paid with 75 percent stock and 25 percent cash, Colonial said in a prepared statement.

The acquisition, which requires the approval of regulators and P.C.B. shareholders, would increase Colonial's Tampa Bay area assets by 44 percent to $1.2-billion and deposits by 45 percent to $1-billion. The bank ranks eleventh in deposits in the Tampa Bay area with a 1.7 percent market share.

The share price for Colonial BancGroup stock closed Tuesday at $17.28, up 2 cents.

- Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or 813 226-3384.

[Last modified December 24, 2003, 01:16:08]

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