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Billy Carroll, president and CEO of SmartFinancial, speaks during an interview in the offices of Cornerstone Bank on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The parent company of SmartBank boosted its fourth quarter net income following the completion of its purchase of the Foothills Bank & Trust in November.

SmartFinancial Inc., the Knoxville-based banking firm that acquired the former Cornerstone Bank in Chattanooga in 2015, reported Wednesday that it earned net income of $6.4 million, or 47 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2018. A year earlier, the company had net operating earnings of $5.9 million, or 43 cents per share.

The results include two months of additional income from Foothills Bank & Trust, and $1.3 million in pre-tax merger related expenses and $1.6 million in tax benefit related adjustments from director options that were previously exercised.

SmartBank CEO Billy Carroll said last year was the busiest year yet for SmartBank.

"We converted two banks and closed on a third, but just as important was our continued strong organic growth that is building a great core bank," Carroll said. "In addition, the announcement of our merger with Entegra Financial Corp. positions our company to take a transformative step in 2019."

SmartBank expects to merge later this year with Entegra in the Carolinas and Georgia to create a combined bank with more than $4 billion in assets.

"I've been very pleased with what our team has accomplished this year and the fourth quarter showed our continued positive trends on our financial performance," SmartFinancial Chairman Miller Welborn said. "Closing the Foothills Bank deal during the quarter was a great addition to our Knoxville market area, as well as the new talent we added to the team during the year, both of which will yield great upside in 2019. "

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