First Bank announces plans to acquire Carolina Bank

First Bancorp (Nasdaq: FBNC), the parent company of First Bank, announced Jun. 22 the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which First Bancorp will acquire Carolina Bank Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: CLBH) the parent company of Carolina Bank, in a cash and
stock transaction with a total current value of approximately $97.3 million, or $19.26
per share.

160622-First-Bank-Carolina-BankThe merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of each company. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016 or first quarter of 2017 and is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approval and approval by Carolina Bank Holdings shareholders. Subject to the terms of the merger agreement, Carolina Bank Holdings shareholders will receive either 1.002 shares of First Bancorp’s common stock or $20.00 in cash for each share of Carolina Bank Holdings common stock, subject to the total consideration being 75% stock / 25% cash, which equates to a deal value of $19.26 per share based on First Bancorp’s closing stock price on Jun. 21, 2016 of $18.98.

Carolina Bank currently operates eight banking locations in the Greensboro-High Point, Burlington and Winston-Salem, N.C. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), along with three mortgage loan offices. Carolina Bank Holdings reported assets of $706 million, gross loans of $491 million and deposits of $601 million as of March 31, 2016. The acquisition complements First Bancorp’s recent branch exchange announcement and the hiring of a team of bankers in the Piedmont Triad area.

“Carolina Bank is an outstanding addition to our company as we continue our expansion into higher growth markets,” said Richard Moore, Chief Executive Officer of First Bancorp, “We are excited to welcome Carolina Bank’s customers, employees, and communities into the First Bancorp family, and look forward to continuing to develop upon the strong foundation Carolina Bank has built in the Piedmont Triad.”

Upon completion of the acquisition, the combined company will have approximately $4.1 billion in assets, $3.0 billion in loans and $3.4 billion in deposits.

According to a news release issued jointly by both banks, “This transaction represents a strategic and financially attractive combination for both companies’ shareholders and will solidify First Bancorp’s position as one of the top community banks in North Carolina.”

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to join with First Bancorp. The combination provides strong value for our shareholders, including the opportunity to benefit as First Bancorp shareholders going forward,” said Robert Braswell, President & CEO of Carolina Bank Holdings. “The combination also provides valuable additional products and services for our customers, an expanded branch network, and new opportunities for our employees.”

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Carolina Bank will acquire two seats on the First Bancorp board of directors as a result of the merger. The paper also says Carolina Bank would pay First Bancorp $3.5 million if the deal is terminated.

Founded in Troy in the 1930s as Bank of Montgomery, First Bank moved its corporate headquarters to Southern Pines, N.C. in 2013. The operations center and some key departments continue to operate in Troy. First Bank currently operates more than 80 branches in North and South Carolina.

In March, 2016, First Bank announced plans to hand over its Virginia operations to First Community Bank and to take over that institution’s six North Carolina branches, located in Winston-Salem, Huntersville and Mooresville.

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