Market for Bank Buys Begins to Warm Up

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, May. 7, 2012 12:00 am  

After an almost stagnant 2010, Arvest's assets grew by 8.6 percent in 2011 - nearly $1 billion - allowing it to widen its lead over even banks that grew at a faster rate, notably Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock and First Security Bank of Searcy.

Arvest operates 240 offices: 111 in Arkansas, 97 in Oklahoma, 25 in Missouri and seven in Kansas.

Thanks to a second consecutive year of asset growth above 14 percent, First Security broke the $4 billion mark and achieved the No. 2 spot among Arkansas-chartered banks at the end of 2011.

Bank of the Ozarks also moved up a notch, to No. 3, with the help of three FDIC-assisted acquisitions in the first half of 2011. Its asset total at year's end was $3.83 billion, up from $3.26 billion at the end of 2010.

Both First Security and BOZ bypassed Centennial Bank of Conway, which had reached the No. 2 spot at the end of 2010, when it completed more FDIC-assisted acquisitions (six) than any other bank in the country. But assets easily gained can be easily lost, and Centennial's total assets dropped by 4.2 percent last year to $3.59 billion, putting it at No. 4 on the list.

Bank of the Ozarks was No. 1 on another list: the most profitable bank in the state. Gains from those FDIC acquisitions helped push its bottom line above $103 million in 2011, up from just under $66 million in 2010.

(Click here for a list of banks ranked by net income. Click here for a list of banks ranked by return on assets. Click here for a list of banks ranked by return on equity.)

Despite making no acquisitions, First Security earned $87.7 million last year. Arvest, more than four times First Security's asset size, earned $82.6 million.

(Correction, May 7, 2012: The last name of the family that controls State Holding Co. was incorrect in the original version of this story.)



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