Centennial, Bank of Ozarks See Gold in Southeastern Expansion

by George Waldon  on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 12:00 am  

(New acquisitions are followed by rapid deposit runoff. For more on that, click here.)

The bank’s Georgia total equals about half the bank’s deposits back home in Arkansas.

Bank of the Ozarks has come a long way from the humble loan production office in Charlotte, N.C., that for years served as a beachhead outpost for its regional aspirations.

“Now, we own a lot of beach, and we’re moving off our beachhead,” Gleason said at the April meeting.

Bank of the Ozarks is in the process of acquiring Genala Banc Inc. of Geneva, Ala., owner of the $170 million-asset Citizens Bank. Geneva is on the Florida border, about 80 miles north of Panama City, Fla.

Announced Oct. 4, 2012, the conventional transaction represents a $27.3 million combination of stock and cash.

Back in Florida

Johnny Allison, chairman of Home BancShares, said familiarity with the Florida market before the 2008 financial meltdown proved to be a double-edged sword for Centennial Bank.

The company operated bank offices in Florida that were hit by losses along with everyone else. But years of experience in the market provided insight into the resilience of the Florida market.

“The bad news: We were in Florida and lost about $20 million,” he said. “The good news is we were in Florida, and we understood the real estate market.

“The Gulf is still on the left and the Atlantic is still on the right. The weather is still warm, and the fish are still biting.

“At one time, Florida was the hottest banking market in the nation. I’m spending my money in a very, very dynamic market.



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