Bank presidents say Grand Strand to benefit from merger

sjones@thesunnews.comJuly 26, 2013 

— Grand Strand customers of SCBT and First Federal Bank won’t notice any changes for a year after Friday’s merger of the two became the largest bank merger in state history.

The two have 20 offices in Horry and Georgetown counties, with both having offices only in Georgetown, Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach.

“One of the beauties of this merger is the lack of overlap,” said Wayne Hall, CEO of First Financial Holdings, the parent of First Federal, in a brief conversation with The Sun News early Friday afternoon.

First Federal is by far the dominant presence along the Grand Strand, with offices stretching from Little River and North Myrtle Beach on the north end to Conway and Loris in western Horry County and to Surfside Beach, Murrells Inlet and Georgetown on the south end.

Hall and John Windley, CEO of SCBT, said they see the merger as a wonderful opportunity to grow and support the burgeoning economic recovery.

If anything, the two said, customers will have greater access to better banking products in better facilities because of the merger. The bank wants to play a significant part in the Grand Strand’s economic recovery, and the two CEOs see an evolution from tighter home purchase and construction lending to more aggressive standards.

The bank wants to be a major player in the area’s mortgage market, Hall said.

There could be some combining of branch offices where the two are in proximity to each other.

“When branches are side by side,” Windley said, “it makes sense to look at consolidation.”

But even if that should happen, Hall said nearly all the employees from the merging offices would be needed to service customers in a new office.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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