Carolina Alliance Bank hopes to form holding company


Spartanburg-based Carolina Alliance Bank announced Thursday it plans to form a holding company yet to be named.

The bank said its board has approved the proposal, which has yet to be approved by its regulators and shareholders.

John Poole

John Poole

John Kimberly

John Kimberly

As part of the proposal Carolina Alliance announced the transition of its current CEO and founder John Poole to the chief executive role of the proposed holding company and as a senior advisor to the bank’s board during the months leading up to the formation of the holding company.

John Kimberly, who became president of the bank after its merger with Forest Commercial Bank in 2014, will become president and CEO of Carolina Alliance.

“We believe this new corporate structure will provide added financial and operational flexibility for Carolina Alliance and is an integral step in the continued growth of the company,” said Terry Cash, chairman of Carolina Alliance, in a statement.

Poole, a veteran community banker, left his position as president and CEO of the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce to partner with the late Robert Harley and Marsha Gibbs to start Carolina Alliance.

The bank began its initial public stock offering in September 2006 and received its state charter in January 2007.

Poole said he remembers working off of folding tables at Spartanburg developer Andrew Babb’s office off South Pine Street at first. The bank then moved into a trailer at 102 W. Henry St. while its permanent corporate headquarters was under construction at the corner of Kennedy and South Church streets.

“Most of the banks in the state have a holding company. Many set them up when they’re first starting out,” Poole said. “It’s more expensive… We said, ‘Until we need it, we’re not going to do it now.’ We’re big enough now. It’s necessary for us to do it in order to do some things that we want to do in the future.”

After the bank’s merger with Forest Commercial, it merged with PBSC Financial Corp., the parent company of Pinnacle Bank of South Carolina. The deal was completed in October 2015.

Today, Carolina Alliance’s operations include seven branches in the Upstate, Western North Carolina, and Charlotte, N.C., as well as leasing operations in both North and South Carolina.

“It’s very rewarding to our board and to me to see the way our model has grown and the way our team has come together to do some wonderful things,” Poole said. “This is just the first step in something we think is going to be a good thing for the bank.”

The bank said its shareholders should receive a proxy statement that will include the proposal for the formation of the holding company in the mail during the second quarter. Its annual meeting will be held sometime in May.

Carolina Alliance said the proposal will not change its status as a community bank. It will continue to be managed by its current board and its headquarters will remain in Spartanburg.

“This is an exciting time for Carolina Alliance Bank,” Kimberly said in a statement. “Within the past three years, we have successfully brought together three community banks and a leasing company. We have a very capable and talented team, and I look forward to the future of Carolina Alliance.”

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