Arvest Again Tops List of Largest Banks in Arkansas

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 12:00 am   4 min read

Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock overtook Arvest Bank of Fayetteville as the state's largest bank charter ranked by total assets. Arvest remained the state's deposit leader. Bank of America ranks third in in-state deposits.

Arkansas bank deposits grew by 5.6 percent in the year that ended June 30, beating the national growth rate of 4.6 percent.

Total deposits in the state rose to almost $64.2 billion even as the number of separate bank charters and branch locations continued to decline.

While Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock overtook Arvest Bank of Fayetteville last year as the state’s largest bank charter when ranked by total assets, Arvest held onto the top spot as the state’s deposit market leader for the 11th straight year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s annual summary of deposits, which was released last week, is an accounting taken at midyear by the government agency that insures bank deposits.

It is not a holistic report card on the health of a bank or of the banking industry, but it is the only official report that provides Arkansas-specific trend data for banks that operate in multiple states.

Both Arvest and Bank of the Ozarks grew in-state deposits by more than 10 percent in the 12 months that ended June 30, but Arvest’s $8.45 billion represents more than 13 percent of the statewide total, while Bank of the Ozarks’ $6 billion remained in second place with statewide market share of 9.4 percent.

Arvest also has the most branches in the state — 116 as of June 30, one fewer than last year. Bank of the Ozarks had 82, down by five in a year. The total number of branches operating in the state dropped by nine, to 1,345, continuing a steady decline after peaking at 1,513 just before the financial crisis of 2008.

A total of 122 different banks were operating at least one office in Arkansas as of June 30, down from 127 a year earlier. (In fact, 15 banks operate exactly one branch in the state, and 17 more have only two offices.) Of the 122 banks reporting Arkansas deposits, 98 were Arkansas charters, down by six in a year as the industry continues to consolidate.

The changes in the roster in the year that ended June 30:

  • Today’s Bank of Huntsville acquired Allied Bank of Mulberry when it was shut down by regulators on Sept. 23, 2016;
  • First Community Bank of Batesville acquired Little River Bank of Lepanto on Dec. 20;
  • Twin Lakes Community Bank of Flippin was merged into sister charter Anstaff Bank of Green Forest on March 4;
  • Pinnacle Bank of Rogers was merged into Central Bank of Little Rock on April 1;
  • Farmers Bank of Hamburg was acquired by Southern Bancorp Bank of Arkadelphia on June 3; and
  • Community First Bank of Harrison was acquired on Nov. 11 by Equity Bank of Andover, Kansas.

Before the FDIC surveys banks in mid-2018, at least two more Arkansas charters will have disappeared. The biggest pending deal is the $391 million cash purchase of Bear State Financial Inc., holding company for Bear State Bank of Little Rock, by Arvest.

Bear State, with total assets of $2.2 billion in three states, ranks No. 9 for Arkansas deposits — $1.29 billion.

Their combined market share currently exceeds 15 percent, a dominance not seen in Arkansas since 1998, when First Commercial Corp. of Little Rock laid claim to 15.88 percent of statewide deposits totaling just under $30.5 billion. (First Commercial’s Arkansas deposits were spread across 18 separate charters, as was common two decades ago.)

Also pending is the purchase of Bank of McCrory by First National Bank of Wynne, which has received regulatory approval and is set to close on Halloween.

The fate of one more Arkansas bank charter is up in the air. Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff was its own high bidder when it auctioned off the capital stock of Heartland Bank of Little Rock on Aug. 28. The stock had been held as collateral for loans to Heartland’s parent company, Rock Bancshares Inc.

The terms of the purchase have not been made public, and Heartland remains a separately chartered bank. Simmons, in announcing the acquisition, said it was “evaluating its next steps with respect to the institution.”

Players Here and Elsewhere
The biggest players in Arkansas’ bank deposit market are also players in other states.

Arvest is No. 4 among 227 banks dividing up Oklahoma’s $86.3 billion in bank deposits. The addition of Bear State’s $55.5 million in Oklahoma deposits would not be quite enough to move it into third place.

(The only other Arkansas bank doing business in Oklahoma is First National Bank of Fort Smith, with $87.6 million in deposits there.)

Bank of the Ozarks is No. 9 in Georgia’s $240 billion statewide market, with $4 billion in deposits there.

The publicly traded bank is also No. 21 in North Carolina, a state so dominated by Bank of America of Charlotte that just a little over half of the $363 billion market is divided up by 91 other institutions. BOZ had almost $928 million in deposits in North Carolina as of June 30. (Bank of America is No. 3 in Arkansas with $6 billion in deposits.)

Centennial Bank of Conway, No. 4 in Arkansas with $4.3 billion in deposits, was No. 25 in Florida as of June 30. It just acquired Stonegate Bank of Pompano Beach late last month; had that happened in time for the June 30 deposit snapshot, the combined Florida deposits of $5.76 billion would have moved Centennial to the No. 18 spot.

Bank of the Ozarks is No. 36 in Florida with $2.1 billion in deposits and No. 33 in Texas with $2.2 billion there. Simmons Bank is in the process of buying the No. 39 bank in Texas, Southwest Bank of Fort Worth, and its $1.8 billion in Texas deposits.

Arvest Bank was No. 21 in Missouri as of June 30, with $1.3 billion in deposits. The Bear State acquisition will add another $358 million.

Simmons, meanwhile, is No. 29 in Missouri with almost $1 billion in deposits there.

A previous version of this story was published on Oct. 3, 2017.



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