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Billy Carroll, president and CEO of SmartFinancial, speaks during an interview in the offices of Cornerstone Bank onTuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. / Staff file photo by John Rawlston

Four years after becoming a publicly traded company through its acquisition of the former Cornerstone Community Bank in Chattanooga, the parent company of SmartBank will begin paying a stock dividend next month.

SmartFinancial, Inc., the Knoxville-based bank holding company for Smart Bank, announced Wednesday that its board of directors has approved paying a quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share. The first dividend will be paid Dec. 6 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Nov. 21.

"Our company has built a great foundation and we are excited that we've gotten to a point to be able to continue our growth as well as return capital to our shareholders," said Billy Carroll, the president and CEO of SmartFinancial.

Wednesday's announcement comes just a week after the bank said last week it plans to buy Progressive Savings Bank in Crossville and Cookeville for $41.4 million in cash and stock. The purchase — the seventh acquisition in the past five years — will boost the size of SmartBank to nearly $2.4 billion in assets.

"Our company is extremely proud of the accomplishments we have made to date," said Miller Welborn, chairman of SmartFinancial. " This is another example of how we are building a great bank with a great brand, while additionally keeping our shareholders first priority."

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