Incoming CEO George Makris Jr. Plans to Tap Simmons First's Big, New Markets

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, May. 6, 2013 12:00 am  

The Missouri and Kansas banks have been rolled into Simmons First National Bank and have not come with local directors, although Makris said Simmons had inherited some good bankers — generally talent brought in near the end to try to save mismanaged banks. “What we’re left with [in the new markets] is a pretty good retail operation,” he said.

But as retail operations, they are too small. “We probably have enough branches in Pine Bluff,” where there are seven. “For St. Louis, four isn’t enough.”

While building de novo branches is always an option, Simmons would rather grow the faster, easier way by buying banks with existing presence in the St. Louis and Kansas City markets. Makris indicated that Simmons is eager but not desperate to do some deals — especially not if purchase price is the only factor.

“We prefer to negotiate with our potential partners,” he said. “We don’t relish these bids — just someone who wants to maximize his take and doesn’t care if half his associates are going to be cut. We really aren’t interested in that.”

For the right acquisition, Simmons might even be willing to keep another charter intact. “If that’s important, we know how to do that,” Makris said.



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