United Community Banks, Inc. Announces Sale of Corporate Healthcare Loan Portfolio

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga., Oct. 06, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- United Community Banks, Inc. (NASDAQ:UCBI) (“United”) announced today that it is exiting its corporate healthcare lending business based in Nashville, Tennessee. In conjunction with the exit, United has agreed to sell to Hancock Bank (“Hancock,” a subsidiary of Hancock Holding Company headquartered in Gulfport, Mississippi) $190 million of corporate healthcare loans that were originated by United’s Nashville-based healthcare team. United will also transfer the lease on its healthcare lending office in Nashville and the personnel will become employees of Hancock.

“While we continue to believe strongly in the prospects for healthcare lending throughout our footprint, it has become clear that lending to nationally and regionally focused corporate healthcare borrowers requires larger individual credit exposures than is appropriate for the size we are today,” said United President and Chief Operating Officer Lynn Harton.

“Our talented team in Nashville has built a strong portfolio, but the business is better suited for, and will be more successful in, a larger bank such as Hancock with over $21 billion in assets,” Harton said. “United will continue to provide local, community-based healthcare lending and related financial services, while growing our Specialized Lending group with a focus on SBA, commercial real estate, asset-based, builder finance and middle-market corporate lending.”

Harton continued, “United expects initially to invest the loan sale proceeds in investment securities, offsetting the majority of the net earnings impact. Ultimately we will reinvest in growth opportunities consistent with our strategy.”

During 2015, United has expanded its footprint in growing markets in east Tennessee by acquiring the First National Bank with $425 million in assets and in Upstate South Carolina with the acquisition of The Palmetto Bank with $1.2 billion in assets. United also reported operating net income of $37.6 million, or 61 cents per diluted share, for the six months ended June 30, 2015, compared to $31.3 million, or 52 cents per diluted share, for the six months ended June 30, 2014.

Caution About Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements, as defined by federal securities laws. These statements are based on current expectations and are provided to assist in the understanding of future financial performance. Such performance involves risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any such statements. For a discussion of some of the risks and other factors that may cause such forward-looking statements to differ materially from actual results, please refer to United’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including its Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and United does not undertake any obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements.

About United Community Banks, Inc.
United Community Banks, Inc. is a bank holding company based in Blairsville, Georgia, with $9.4 billion in assets. The company’s banking subsidiary, United Community Bank, is one of the Southeast’s largest full-service banks, operating 133 offices in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The bank specializes in personalized community banking services for individuals, small businesses and corporations. United Community Bank offers a full range of consumer and commercial banking services including mortgage, advisory, treasury management and other products. In 2014 and 2015, United Community Bank was ranked first in customer satisfaction in the southeast by J.D. Power and in 2015 was ranked fourteenth on the Forbes list of America’s Best Banks. Additional information about the company and the bank’s full range of products and services is available at www.ucbi.com.

For more information: Rex S. Schuette Chief Financial Officer 706-781-2265 rex_schuette@ucbi.com

Source:United Community Banks Inc.