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First South Bank CEO Bruce Elder responded to a recent blog on the announced merger of Washington-based First South Bancorp with Charleston, S.C.-based Carolina Financial Corp., owner of CresCom Bank. The purchase will create a combined organization with $2.4 billion in deposits and $3.2 billion in assets.

Here is his letter:

You leave the reader with the impression that Phil Lewis was the reason First South decided to seek a strategic partner. The Phil Lewis proposal was a distraction last year, but not the reason for the announced transaction.

The financial performance of the bank was improving at a rate that would have resulted in our stated mission of achieving high performance over the next several years. But we have found a partner that is already at a level of high performance that ranks it in the top 5 performers in the Carolinas. This is a transaction that is a phenomenal deal for stockholders, provides greater resources to serve our customers, will provide 85% or more of our employee base with growth and development opportunities and will continue to allow our communities to experience the contributions of a vibrant community bank. Together, CresCom Bank and First South Bank will be creating the premier community bank in the Carolinas.

Perhaps in the future, you would permit the appropriate people at the company to provide you with better information as opposed to talking to [a] stockholder who thinks highly of himself.

Bruce W. Elder
President and CEO
First South Bancorp

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