Bank News

For Release:     Friday, July 22, 2016

Citizens Bank and American Trust Bank of East Tennessee to Merge

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — The respective Boards of Directors of Citizens Bank (Tri-Cities area) and American Trust Bank of East Tennessee (Knoxville area) have unanimously approved an agreement and plan of merger for the two East Tennessee banks. 

Based on the terms of the merger agreement, Citizens Bank, an independent community bank wholly-owned by Citco Community Bancshares, will acquire American Trust Bank of East Tennessee (“ATB”) for $19.8 million in cash.

The transaction to complete the merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016, at which time Citizens Bank will become among the 20 largest Tennessee-headquartered banks, based on asset size.  The agreement and plan of merger is subject to regulatory and American Trust Bank shareholder approval.

“On behalf of the board, officers and employees of American Trust Bank, we are pleased to have reached this merger agreement,” said E.F. Wheeler Jr., American Trust Bank Chairman, President and CEO.  “Citizens Bank has a well-established reputation in East Tennessee for being a progressive yet fiscally conservative community bank.  Customers can look forward to innovative account selections and technology-focused delivery channels that are well-suited for the Knoxville area’s expanding economy.”

Founded in 2004, American Trust Bank operates four locations across three East Tennessee counties including two branches in Knoxville (Knox County), one in LaFollette (Campbell County) and one in Lenoir City (Loudon County). ATB’s locations will add to Citizen Bank’s existing 12 full-service banking offices in four cities – Johnson City, Elizabethton, Kingsport and Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia.

The primary ownership group for Citizens Bank and its holding company is the LaPorte family of Elizabethton.  In 1956, Joe LaPorte II was an FDIC bank examiner-turned-banker when he joined Citizens Bank as a loan officer.  He became the bank’s president in the early 1960s. Citizens Bank is now owned by his four sons: Stephen, Sam, Chris and current Chairman and CEO Joe LaPorte III. With a history stretching more than 80 years, Citizens Bank has had a storied legacy of serving communities throughout the Tri-Cities area. The LaPorte family’s deep ties to Knoxville and the University of Tennessee make the Knoxville MSA a logical focus for expansion.

“Our board and management team has had an eye on the Knoxville market as a step in Citizen Bank’s continued growth and success for quite some time,” said Joe LaPorte III. “This merger with ATB, along with a Citizens Bank loan production office opened in Knoxville earlier this year, provides the opportunity we had been seeking.”  LaPorte continued, “We are impressed by the physical presence and quality of personnel associated with American Trust Bank, which provides a great springboard for Citizen Bank’s future.  We anticipate continuing our growth and remaining a fiercely independent bank, headquartered in and serving East Tennessee.”

In connection with this pending transaction, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. is serving as financial advisor and Alston & Bird LLP as legal counsel to Citizens Bank. Olsen Palmer LLC is serving as financial advisor and Miller Martin PLLC as legal counsel to American Trust Bank.

About Citizens Bank

Originally founded in 1934 in Elizabethton, Citizens Bank has total assets in excess of $700 million and provides comprehensive personal and business banking services along with mortgage and investment services.  The bank had 153 employees as of March FDIC reports. For more information, visit the company’s website at

About American Trust Bank

Founded in 2004, ATB has total assets of approximately $141 million as of March 2016 and four locations across three counties in East Tennessee. The company had 36 employees as of March FDIC reports. For more information, visit the company’s website at


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