United Community Banks, Inc. and Aquesta Financial Holdings, Inc. announced Thursday an agreement for United to acquire Aquesta, including its wholly-owned subsidiary, Aquesta Bank.
Aquesta is headquartered in Cornelius, North Carolina, a northern and fast-growing suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina situated on Lake Norman. It is led by President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Engel, who founded Aquesta Bank in 2006. The bank’s high-touch customer service is delivered to retail and business customers through a network of nine branches located in Charlotte’s most attractive markets and also in the coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina. Aquesta also has successful loan production offices in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina.
As of March 31, 2021, Aquesta reported total assets of $752 million, with total loans of $576 million. Additionally, $586 million, or 92%, of its deposit base consists of non-CD core deposits.
“This transaction is consistent with our desire to expand into attractive and fast-growing markets that we know well,” said Lynn Harton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of United. “We have been investing in Charlotte over the past several years and have commercial banking and mortgage teams already in place. 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.”
Jim Engel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aquesta, stated, “From the beginning, we have focused on developing a business model with a focus on relationship banking in Charlotte and other key markets in the Carolinas, which are some of the most attractive and fastest growing markets in the Southeast and the country. We believe that we have been successful at that. However, to continue growing and becoming more profitable, we needed a partner who can provide us the opportunity to better serve our customers with a larger balance sheet and expanded products and services to offer. Our partnership with the United team provides just that, and I believe the synergies that exist between our companies will result in tremendous success for both sides.”
The transaction value is estimated at approximately $131 million, including approximately $12 million in value for outstanding options and warrants to acquire Aquesta common stock. The transaction structure includes an election for Aquesta stockholders to receive their consideration in cash, subject to a limitation that no more than 30% of the total consideration paid by United will be in cash. The stock portion of the merger consideration is based upon 0.6386 shares of United common stock being issued in exchange for each share of Aquesta common stock.
The acquisition is expected to be accretive to United’s earnings per share by approximately $0.06 to $0.09 in 2022, depending upon the mix of United shares and cash elected by Aquesta stockholders and is consistent with United’s stated acquisition criteria pertaining to tangible book value and targeted internal rates of return. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021 and is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approval as well as the approval of Aquesta’s stockholders.
About United Community Banks, Inc.
United Community Banks, Inc. (NASDAQ: UCBI) (United) provides a full range of banking, wealth management and mortgage services for relationship-oriented consumers and business owners. The company, known as “The Bank That SERVICE Built,” has been recognized nationally for delivering award-winning service. United has $18.6 billion in assets and 161 offices in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee along with a national SBA lending franchise and a national equipment lending subsidiary. In 2021, J.D. Power ranked United highest in customer satisfaction with retail banking in the Southeast, marking seven out of the last eight years United earned the coveted award. United was also named “Best Banks to Work For” by American Banker in 2020 for the fourth year in a row based on employee satisfaction. Forbes included United in its inaugural list of the World’s Best Banks in 2019 and again in 2020. Forbes also recognized United on its 2021 list of the 100 Best Banks in America for the eighth consecutive year. United also received five Greenwich Excellence Awards in 2020 for excellence in Small Business Banking, including a national award for Overall Satisfaction.
About Aquesta Financial Holdings, Inc.
Aquesta Financial Holdings, Inc. (OTC Pink: AQFH) is the holding company for Aquesta Bank, a full-service bank with branches in Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Mooresville, Charlotte, and Wilmington, North Carolina, and loan production offices in Raleigh, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina. Aquesta Bank’s track record of superior growth and profitability has been built on its focus on its core values of passion, vision, caring, empowerment and togetherness. The Aquesta team applies these values in helping its clients, communities, and each other achieve success. Aquesta has been recognized as a leader in the communities it serves including, Best Work Place (2020) and Normy Award for Best Community Bank. Recently, Aquesta helped local businesses by being one of the top PPP loan producers in the country proportionate to its size, resulting in about 17,000 jobs being saved for small businesses across the Charlotte area.