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Morgan to retire as Southern Bank CEO

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MOUNT OLIVE — Southern Bank CEO J. Grey Morgan will begin his planned retirement this summer with a transition from the C-suite to the boardroom.

Morgan is stepping down as chief executive of Southern Bank and Trust Co. and holding company Southern BancShares following a career spanning more than 15 years, the bank announced last week. His 11-year tenure as CEO saw Southern Bank double its assets under management to more than $2.9 billion.

Bank President Drew M. Covert has been named Morgan’s successor as CEO while Taylor Harrell, executive vice president and the bank’s regional executive in Virginia, will become president.

“We are very pleased to have Drew succeed as chief executive officer and for Taylor to succeed as president,” Morgan said in a statement. “Drew and Taylor bring many years of successful bank management experience and leadership qualities that will truly be an asset to the company. They have been an integral part of our senior management team for many years and the transition will be seamless.”

Morgan will retire as CEO on June 30 and serve as executive chairman until his full retirement takes effect at year’s end. The phase-out allows him to provide “institution oversight and leadership for various strategic initiatives and ongoing business development activities.” After retiring from Southern Bank, Morgan will remain on the institution’s board of directors.

“It has been an honor and truly fulfilling, on both a professional and personal level, to have had the pleasure to work with Grey on a daily basis over the past decade or more,” Covert said in a statement. “His stabilizing influence, counsel, vision and leadership have served us well in guiding the bank to the regional presence and prosperity it enjoys today and positioning it well for a prosperous future.”

Southern Bank has more than 60 locations in eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, including two branches in Wilson, five in Rocky Mount and one each in Sharpsburg, Bailey, Middlesex, Nashville, Pinetops, Tarboro, Kenly, Pine Level and Fremont. Founded in 1901, the bank is headquartered in Mount Olive.