published Friday, July 4th, 2014

Southern Heritage prepares to merge with First Citizens

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Southern Heritage Bank earned 13.4 percent less than a year ago in the first quarter, but the bank continued to grow its assets and deposits over the past year and paid dividends to shareholders this week ranging from 40 cents to 44 cents per share.

According to filings with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Southern Heritage Bank earned $686,000 in the first three months of 2014, down from $792,000 a year earlier.

But total assets for Bradlley County’s third- biggest bank grew by $3.7 million over the past year to $244.9 million, and bank deposits grew by $3.2 million to $213.3 million.

As previously announced, the Southern Heritage Bancshares Inc. will be acquired this summer by First Citizens Bancshares Inc. The Cleveland bank will continue to operate under the Southern Heritage name as a separately chartered bank and subsidiary of First Citizens Bancshares.

“We are fortunate to achieve a performance level that rewards each shareholder for their faith, confidence and financial investment in Southern Heritage Bank,” said Lee Stewart, the bank’s president and CEO.

Southern Heritage, which was founded in 1998, is ranked in the top 5 percent of all U.S. community banks in Total Risk Index, as recently publicized by Siefried & Brew, an independent financial consulting firm.

“This particular rating validates that Southern Heritage manages risk in a manner that is appropriate for the market we serve,” Southern Heritage Chief Operating Officer Steve Ledbetter said.

Since October 2013, Southern Heritage has received “top ratings” from three independent ratings services: Bauer Financial, Weiss Ratings and now Siegfried and Brew.

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