Five years after a strong start, BankMeridian has failed -- seized by federal regulators Friday and snapped up by SCBT Financial Corp.
The bank was based in Columbia and had a branch on Hilton Head Island. It also had several local board members, including former Hilton Head Mayor Tom Peeples.
Peeples, who declined to comment Monday, was listed as BankMeridian's chairman in its 2009 annual report, the most recent available on its website. Nine of the bank's 19 board members that year hailed from southern Beaufort County.
BankMeridian's three branches -- in Columbia and Spartanburg and on Hilton Head -- opened as usual Monday as branches of "BankMeridian, a division of SCBT."
Never miss a local story.
The failed bank has about 40 employees, SCBT chief executive Robert Hill said.
What will happen to those employees had not been decided Monday, SCBT officials said. There likely will be some job losses when the changeover to SCBT is completed in November.
SCBT, which reported its best quarter in two years Friday, has branches near all of BankMeridian's branches. SCBT likely will consolidate those operations into its nearby banks, resulting in no "net gain" in its branches, Hill said.
BankMeridian opened in 2006 in the prominent Meridian Building on Columbia's Main Street, a year before the economy started to slip into recession.
"It was a terrible time to start a bank," Hill said.
In its first six months, the new bank hit a milestone benchmark of $100 million in assets. But as the economy tumbled, the bank was hit hard. By January 2010, BankMeridian was ordered by regulators to shore up its balance sheets to offset losses from coastal loans.
The bank is the 60th FDIC-insured institution to fail this year and the sixth in South Carolina since April 2010.
Myrtle Beach's Beach First National Bank, the first to fail in the state in more than a decade, was followed by Williamsburg First National Bank in Kingstree, Woodlands Bank in Bluffton, First National Bank of the South in Spartanburg and CommunitySouth Bank & Trust in Easley.
BankMeridian was the state's 46th largest bank, accounting for less than 1 percent of the state's market share. The bank had $240 million in assets and $215.5 million in deposits as of March 31, federal regulators said.
On Hilton Head, it ranked 12th among 19 financial institutions last year with a market share of 3.54 percent and deposits of $54,711,000, according to the FDIC.
SCBT -- the eighth-largest bank in the state with a nearly 3 percent market share and more than $2 billion in deposits -- has agreed to buy all of the failed bank's deposits and some of its assets.
SCBT, parent of S.C. Bank & Trust, has been in growth mode, buying Community Bank & Trust in Cornelia, Ga., in February 2010. A year later, it bought the failed Habersham Bank in Clarkesville, Ga.
Hill said last summer that SCBT wants to double its size within five years.
Friday, SCBT reported profits of $4.9 million during its second quarter, up from $575,000 in 2010's second quarter.
Staff writer Josh McCann contributed to this report.