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Friday, August 10, 2012 - 11:00am

Savannah Bank Sold To SC Buyer

South Carolina Bank and Trust is buying Savannah Bancorp, creating the Savannah area's largest community bank.

Company officials say, the city's The Savannah Bank will keep its local name and local control.

The Savannah Bank president Holden Hayes says, the only operational change will be the consolidation of two branches in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island.

"It's business as usual," Hayes says. "While there will be changes associated with it, we feel like it's going to be a positve move for our company and our community."

Hayes says, the community bank model of local decision making will remain while customers get more services and branches.

Ed Sibbald of Georgia Southern University's Center for Excellence in Financial Services says, while the move is good for the bank and its customers, the acquisition makes locally-owned banks even more rare in the coastal region's economic hub.

"I'm sad to see Savannah Bank be acquired but only from the standpoint that they were the largest independent community bank in Savannah," Sibbald says. "And right now, there's only two significant banks left in Savannah that are independent community banks."

The merger makes Columbia-based SCBT third only to SunTrust and Wells Fargo in local deposits.

About 35,000 customers bank at Savannah Bank and its subsidiaries.

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