First Bank, a state-chartered community bank that operates 95 branches in North Carolina and South Carolina and is owned by First Bancorp of Southern Pines, is merging with Asheville Savings Bank, a state-chartered stock savings bank which currently operates 13 banking locations in Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Henderson and Transylvania counties. First Bancorp will acquire ASB Bancorp, Inc., in a cash and stock transaction, valued as of April 28 at approximately $175 million and slated to close in the fourth quarter of 2017, pending regulatory and shareholder approvals. Ultimately, the deal will solidify First Bank’s position as North Carolina’s leading community bank, and the combined company will have approximately $5.2 billion in assets, $3.9 billion in loans, and $4.3 billion in deposits. Both First Bank and Asheville Savings Bank have lengthy histories in serving their local customers and communities. The merger is not expected to affect current day-to-day operations, with the same local faces continuing to work at the various banking centers.