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FLORIDA BAY BANKS, INC. FIGHTS BACK, CHALLENGES OVERZEALOUS STATE REGULATORS AND SOUTHTRUST BANK, N.A. OF BIRMINGHAM, ALA.

 PANAMA CITY, Fla., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The following news release was issued today by Florida Bay Banks, Inc.:
 John Christo Jr.'s commitment to providing the people of Bay County with a community owned and operated bank continues. A combination of circumstances involving Gerald Lewis, the elected Comptroller of the State of Florida, and SouthTrust Bank have forced Florida Bay Banks, Inc. to seek a just resolution in the courts to solve their differences with the Florida State Department of Banking and SouthTrust Bank, N.A. of Birmingham, Ala.
 Christo, chairman of the Florida Bay Banks, Inc., the holding company that owns 100 percent of Bay Bank and Trust Co., found legal action the only recourse to keep the Bay Bank stock from being sold on the courthouse steps by SouthTrust Bank of Birmingham, who holds the stock as collateral to a loan made by Florida Bay Banks, Inc. in 1983.
 Bay Bank and Trust Company continues to serve Panama City and the greater Bay County area from a strong capital base and reserves in excess of $13 million. Bay Bank's capital position exceeds the regulator's reserve requirement by $1,387,881.
 Christo's commitment to serving the financial needs of the Bay County business community began well over a quarter century ago when he entered the banking business after a successful career as a retail merchant. Christo still considers himself a businessman first and a banker second. As a businessman, Christo knows what it is like to meet a payroll on Friday afternoon with the help of an understanding banker. He has done this on numerous occasions for local individuals and businesses who have been customers of Bay Bank and Trust Co.
 Christo said, "A locally owned bank can make business decisions quickly, whereas a big bank with a branch in Panama City would need to get approval from higher ups who can not possibly offer the personal, one-on-one contact a community owned and operated bank provides."
 Christo emphasized, "The legal differences between SouthTrust Bank and the holding company have absolutely no bearing on the safety and soundness of Bay Bank and Trust. The suit would have no effect on the bank continuing to serve the needs of its customers from a strong capital base with reserves in excess of $13 million and a current asset base of $161 million.
 In summary, it is necessary to resort to this legal recourse so that citizens of Bay County are able to continue to enjoy the significant benefits of a locally owned and operated commercial bank. The strength of this commitment by John Christo Jr. to the citizens of Bay County is so strong he is willing to take the appropriate action required to assure the individuals and businesses are protected from the threat of losing the advantages of a local bank.
 Statement by
 Josh Cox, President and CEO of Bay Bank and Trust Co.
 Panama City, Fla.
 Jan. 29, 1993
 As the newly elected chief executive officer of Bay Bank and Trust, I am pleased to have this opportunity to go on record saying, John Christo Jr.'s commitment to the people of Bay County far exceeds his desire for personal gain. Had he chosen to take the easy way out, he could have followed suggestions to sell the bank and retire from the banking business.
 I'm here to tell you that John Christo Jr. is not a quitter. He is a businessman, turned banker who believes that Bay County businesses need to have a locally owned and operated bank to assist them with their banking needs.
 John Christo Jr. will retire from the banking industry in time, with his head held high, knowing what his bank has meant to the community and the positive impact it has had on numerous individuals and businesses it has touched over the years.
 I have been a banker for over 31 years -- including tenure as president of a large multi-bank holding company as well as the CEO of several banks the size of Bay Bank and Trust Co. I can tell you, there is a difference. Local businesses suffer without a locally owned bank to respond to their local problems.
 I pledge to you that I will learn what I can from this visionary leader who has committed his personal wealth and resources to seeing that this community has a sound and well capitalized bank to serve its needs.
 Yes, John Christo Jr. has put into practice his belief of serving the local community as his bank has extended over $1 billion in loans to individuals and businesses in the area during his 32 years as the major stockholder in Bay Bank. During those years, through several recessions and downturns in the economy, Bay Bank has lost money in only one year. That loss was reported in 1991 in the amount of $1,246,923, which reflected an overall decline in real estate values, a fact that was experienced by banks throughout the country. And when you stop to analyze such an event, it is important to recognize that the Christo family owns 96 percent of the holding company's stock, and their personal participation in this loss exceeded over $1 million. The bank immediately rebounded from this loss and will report a profit for year- end 1992.
 As Christo approaches the pinnacle of his career as a citizen who sincerely cares about the community and a businessman and banker who knows the importance of being able to do business with a locally owned and operated bank, I take this opportunity to share some special news. It is my honor to announce that Christo will not be taking the "path of least resistance" by "selling out" to an out-of-area holding company; instead he will be selling a portion of this bank to hundreds of people in this community. This action will assure that the board of directors will continue to be comprised of individuals who share his vision and commitment to continue to provide a bank that is locally owned, locally operated with decisions affecting the local businesses to be made in Bay County. In other words, a board comprised of Bay County residents who also care about a healthy viable business community.
 More information about this extraordinary opportunity for continued community ownership will be forthcoming.
 -0- 1/29/93
 /NOTE TO EDITOR: A copy of the law suit is available upon request.
 CONTACT: Joyce Hinze, director of marketing/public relations for Florida Bay Banks, Inc., 904-769-3333, ext. 593/


CO: Florida Bay Banks, Inc. ST: Florida IN: FIN SU:

JJ-AW -- FL004 -- 0785 01/29/93 13:09 EST
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