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Reliant Bancorp still looking at deals after 2 buys in 2 months

Reliant Bancorp Inc. will continue looking for deals as it works to close its newly announced $123.4 million acquisition of First Advantage Bancorp, management said Oct. 23.

This marks the second deal for Reliant in as many months after its Sept. 16 announcement that it will acquire Tennessee Community Bank Holdings Inc. Reliant Chairman, President and CEO DeVan Ard Jr. said the bank might not be done. He said Reliant wants to keep its focus on middle Tennessee markets and has its sights set on growing beyond $5 billion in assets. Assuming the bank's deals close as expected, the bank will have total consolidated assets of about $3 billion.

"I do think that the $5 billion to $10 billion franchise size is ideal and it's certainly attainable for us as we look out the next three to five years. Can't really get there through strictly organic growth, although organic is going to continue to be a hallmark of our strength and our strategy going forward," Ard said during a call to discuss the bank's earnings and latest deal.

First Advantage Bancorp reported $732.6 million of assets in the third quarter. Tennessee Community Bank had about $251.4 million as of June 30. Ard said the bank bought Tennessee Community due to its strong core deposit base and market share in its community. He said in the future, the bank would like to focus on M&A targets with more than $500 million of assets.

"Especially as we get out of the core of middle Tennessee, which would be Nashville and surrounding counties, I think, we would have to look for something a little bit larger," Ard said.

While Ard said Reliant has not changed its geographic focus, he did not rule out moving out of state for the right deal. As of the second quarter, all of the bank's deposits and branches were in Tennessee.

"We don't really feel like we need to expand our geography, and I continue to see other opportunities that are in what I would call the expanded middle-Tennessee market — and that would include southern Kentucky and north Alabama," Ard said. He also said the bank would consider "bolt-on" acquisition opportunities in the Chattanooga metro area, which includes north Georgia.

The CEO said the bank would consider a merger-of-equals but specified that it would need to be a "perfect" fit in terms of talent, performance and cost savings.