Shareholders OK sale of Gateway Bank to First Volunteer

Shareholders OK sale of Gateway Bank to First Volunteer

February 23rd, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Bob Peck, chairman of Gateway Banchshares, stands in the lobby of the 5102 Alabama Highway main office of Gateway Bank and Trust in this file photo.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Shareholders of Gateway Bancshares Inc., the parent company of Gateway Bank and Trust in Ringgold, Ga., voted today to approve the sale of the 15-year-old bank to First Volunteer Corp., in Chattanooga.

Pending regulatory approval in the couple of months, First Volunteer plans to acquire Gateway and convert its three branches to First Volunteer offices this spring. The combination of the two banks will boost First Volunteer's combined assets to more than $900 million.

"This gives us a presence in the growing North Georgia market," said Patti Steele, president of First Volunteer Bank and Trust Co., which is buying Gateway Bank. "We think it's a very fair purchase and we look forward to working with the customers of Gateway in North Georgia."

Steele said First Volunteer plans to continue to operate all of the Gateway branches but she said some staff cuts may be made as the back office operations of the two banks are consolidated.

Gateway Bank was started in 1997 by Robert Peck and Harle Green, both former managers at Northwest Georgia Bank. The bank has grown to include 26 percent of the deposits in Catoosa County and assets of more than $267 million - second only to Northwest Georgia Bank in size.

"By joining forces with First Volunteer, we are combining talented bankers, and creating a more diversified mix of consumer and commercial deposit and lending offerings," said Peck, chairman of Gateway Banchshares.

Gateway has offices in Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe and LaFayette, Ga.

First Volunteer Corp. operates 22 branches and has assets of nearly $650 million.