Special Projects For 57

FAST40 2011

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Playing it safe pays off for one Tar Heel bank the end of 2008 were $842 million and about $924 million by the end of 2010. Revenue grew from $27 million in 2008 to $40 million in 2010, a 47% increase. Crowder says By avoiding dangerous lending practices and bringing in a new management team, The East Carolina Bank is able to grow while bigger banks struggle to survive. F or more than 80 years, The East Carolina Bank was content with slowly expanding its territory in coastal North Carolina, branching out bit by bit from its base in Engelhard. But the fi nance world is different now, and so is ECB. The community bank, which held $643 million in assets at the end of 2007, will pass the $1 billion mark in 2011 with the acquisition of seven branches of Norfolk, Va.-based Bank of Hampton Roads. It will fi nance the acquisition, which still needs regulatory approval, with $80 million in capital raised from six private investors, including Patriot Financial Partners LP of Philadelphia and New York-based Endicott Management Co. "We're executing a plan of capital creation and capital raising and growth strategies to include acquisi- tions," ECB Chief Financial Offi cer Tom Crowder says. Future acquisitions could involve taking over a whole bank instead of a piece, something it's never done. The growth spurt of ECB, a wholly owned subsidiary of Engelhard-based ECB Bankcorp Inc., started in 2008 when it aggressively expanded into new markets — Wilmington in particular. Assets at revenue and assets were fl at this year since North Carolina is still recovering from the recession. But the Bank of Hampton Roads acquisitions, which include four Raleigh-area branches, will add $200 million in assets. "It goes back to the quality of the bank," he says, describing ECB as stable with a healthy credit culture. "We don't have to deal with the trouble our peers are experiencing. We've had our dings … but we're not trying to fi x bad loans and broken circumstances." Growth accelerated under a new senior manage- ment team recruited by A. Dwight Utz, who joined the bank as president and CEO in 2009 when his predeces- sor retired. The team brought experience in capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and post-merger integration, Crowder says. If the regulatory environ- ment was going to force more banks to combine, ECB wanted to "be the acquirer, not be acquired." The bank plans to open branches in new markets, including Jacksonville and Fayetteville. The East Carolina Bank 35050 U.S. 264, P.O. Box 337, Engelhard, N.C. 27824 DECEMBER 2011 9

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