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St. Pete’s Freedom Bank sells to Seacoast

Margie Manning

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Freedom Bank in St. Petersburg

Fourth Street Banking Co., the parent company of Freedom Bank, has agreed to be acquired by Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida in a stock deal valued at $63.6 million.

Freedom Bank, with $276 million in assets, $249 million in loans and two branch offices, is one of just two community banks headquartered in St. Petersburg.  Seacoast Banking Corp. (Nasdaq: SBCF), headquartered in Stuart, is one of the largest community banks headquartered in Florida with about $7.1 billion in assets and 48 branch offices, including four offices in the Tampa-St. Pete area.

Cathy Swanson, CEO, Freedom Bank

“In creating Freedom Bank in 2005, we sought to fill a need in the market for local bankers who knew their customers by name and could make decisions based on local market conditions. We are delighted to partner with Seacoast, who has been serving Florida consumers and businesses for more than 90 years with a very similar philosophy,” Cathy Swanson, CEO of Freedom Bank, said in a news release. “We know our customers will enjoy its convenient state-wide network and impressive array of products and services.”

Swanson plans to remain with Seacoast as its market president for Pinellas County.

Seacoast entered the Tampa-St. Pete market in 2017, when it bought GulfShore Bank and NorthStar Bank.

“Seacoast has found a great opportunity to partner with Freedom Bank, strengthening our position in the attractive Tampa-St. Petersburg market,” said Dennis Hudson III, Seacoast’s chairman and CEO. “This is an exceptional addition to our two previous acquisitions in the state’s second-largest MSA. We look forward to welcoming Freedom Bank’s employees and customers to Seacoast Bank.”

Seacoast will have about $679 million in deposits in the Tampa-St. Pete area after the deal closes.

Fourth Street shareholders will receive 0.1275 shares of Seacoast common stock for each share of Fourth Street common stock. Based on Seacoast’s closing price of $29.39 as of Jan. 22, the deal is valued at about $63.6 million or $3.75 per share, which includes cashing out the Fourth Street options.

The deal is expected to close late in the second quarter of 2020, pending regulatory approval and approval of Fourth Street shareholders.

Piper Sandler served as financial advisor and Alston & Bird LLP served as legal counsel to Seacoast. Hovde Group, LLC served as financial advisor and Smith Mackinnon PA served as legal counsel to Fourth Street.

After the Seacoast-Freedom Bank deal closes, First Home Bank, with about $507 million in assets, will be the only community bank headquartered in St. Petersburg, and one of eight community banks headquartered in the Tampa-St. Pete area.

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