The problem with any merger right now is none are being done. What's that got to do with anything, you might ask? I think that the whole pricing mechanism for bank stocks is currently screwed up. The STI-CF deal obviously wasn't priced the way most folks thought it should be. Then the crunch (crash?) and now everything is up in the air. I think BBK is trying to figure out what is a reasonable multiple for their own stock in this kind of enviroment, much less what to pay for somebody else, particulatly someone who dosn't wnat to be bought (in spite of their shareholder's wishes - are you listening FVB!!?) BBK's experience in the past is not to strike out on issues such as these (the conversion of mutual S&L to stock that was presold to BBK may be an exception from a few years ago) and I don't think you will se them active until things become clear'er. An MOE with ASO, etc. would be an exception, how ever because of the many philosophical reasons for pursuing such a merger. Mgt. could be woeked out, etc. This would transend the cloudy outlook for bank stock prices right now. Of course, I'm probably wrong, but I don't think trying to play a potential BBK purchase is very smart at this point in time. Wait and see who does the next deal.
A lot of scuttlebutt on STI-BBK combo, but I doubt it unless STI will give J. Allison a huge role. He really is sharp, so they might, but the rest of his management team would get killed and I doubt he would agree to that.
As for any small banks south of SC, I doubt it. Look to Va., Tenn., W. Va., Md. first. I havn't sold any BBK since I let some go at 70 (now 35) and I plan to hang tight for a while. There may be better buys in regional banks out there, but I don't know who.