SCBT Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: SCBT) and First Financial Holdings, Inc. (“First Financial”) (NASDAQ: FFCH) jointly announced today the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which SCBT and First Financial will merge to position the combined company to become a premier regional bank. “We are pleased to announce that two of the Southeast’s oldest, strongest and largest banks are merging to form a dynamic banking company. Our two banks complement each other significantly and, because of our size, earnings power and strength, we will be uniquely positioned to build a premier regional bank in the Southeast,” said Robert R. Hill, Jr., president and CEO, SCBT Financial Corporation. “This partnership benefits our customers, shareholders and employees and is a unique opportunity to join two local community banks with a similar history and culture. We have admired and respected First Financial for a long time, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to build an even stronger company together.” Founded in 1934, First Financial operates First Federal Bank (“First Federal”), which has 66 locations in the Carolinas and is the third largest financial institution headquartered in South Carolina, ranking 8 th in deposit market share. “For nearly 80 years, both SCBT and First Federal have consistently served the financial needs of our customers and we look forward to continuing this legacy,” said R. Wayne Hall, president and CEO of First Financial. "We will collectively continue to deliver the highest level of service, while maintaining our community banking values. Together, we will collaborate to evaluate our strengths and work to leverage the best of each of our institutions.” Upon completion of the transaction, the combined company will have approximately $8.3 billion in total assets, $6.9 billion in total deposits and $6.1 billion in total loans. On a pro forma basis, the company will rank 5 th in deposit market share in South Carolina (source: SNL Financial). Together the two companies operate a network of 148 branches in the Carolinas and generate over $2 billion in mortgage loans, ranking 4 th in mortgage market share. First Financial’s Wealth Management Division when combined with SCBT’s Wealth Management Group will have total assets under management of approximately $2.35 billion. The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013 and is subject to customary conditions, including approval by both SCBT and First Financial shareholders. At closing and upon shareholder approval, the proposed holding company name will be First Financial Holdings, Inc.