The Bank Slate


United Community adding to N.C. ops with Aquesta deal

United Community Banks in Blairsville, Ga., has agreed to buy Aquesta Financial Holdings in Cornelius, N.C.

The $18.6 billion-asset United said in a press release Thursday that it will pay $131 million in cash and stock for the $752 million-asset Aquesta, which is one of the few remaining banks based around Charlotte, N.C. The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, priced Aquesta at 216.8% of its tangible book value.

Aquesta, founded in 2006, has nine branches, three loan-production offices, $576 million of loans and $637 million of deposits. United already has a loan-production office in the Charlotte area. 

“This transaction is consistent with our desire to expand into attractive and fast-growing markets that we know well,” Lynn Harton, United’s chairman and CEO, said in the release. 

“We have been investing in Charlotte over the past several years and have commercial banking and mortgage teams already in place,” Harton added. “Aquesta is an exciting opportunity for us to increase our presence and accelerate our growth with a high-quality company that shares our values of customer service, employee engagement and community development.”

United said the deal should be accretive to its earnings per share by 6 cents to 9 cents in 2022, depending upon the final mix of consideration. The company said it expects “manageable” dilution to its tangible book value.

United plans to cut 38% of Aquesta’s annual noninterest expenses, or roughly $7.3 million. The company expects to incur $11.1 million of merger-related expenses.

“At a high level, we like the [transaction for United] as it is acquiring the largest remaining community bank headquartered in the” Charlotte area, Brad Milsaps, an analyst at Piper Sandler, said in a note to clients.

Charlotte “is a market highly sought after by a number of banks,” Milsaps added. “Moreover, the deal helps accelerate [United’s} future expansion plans in Charlotte by building upon its existing infrastructure of lenders already in the market.”


Hovde Group and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough advised United. Piper Sandler and Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton advised Aquesta.

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