Metropolitan National Bank Finds a Savior as Dallas Investment Fund Agrees to Purchase

by Gwen Moritz  on Friday, Jul. 5, 2013 4:00 pm  

Lunsford Bridges will continue as CEO of Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock after its planned sale later this summer.

A Dallas investment fund has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock from its holding company, which late Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to facilitate the sale, and to recapitalize the bank to the level required by federal regulators.

Ford Financial Fund II, a $750 million investment fund recently organized by managers Gerald J. Ford and Carl B. Webb, has offered $16 million for 100 percent of the Metropolitan National Bank stock held by Rogers Bancshares Inc., the holding company controlled by the heirs of Doyle Rogers Sr., who died Feb. 4.

Click here to view a copy of the bankruptcy filing. Assets and liability of the holding company are both estimated at between $10 million and $50 million.

Metropolitan CEO Lunsford Bridges told Arkansas Business Friday afternoon that the $25 million that Rogers Bancshares received from the U.S. Treasury in 2009 as part of the TARP program was among the holding company's liabilities.

Exactly how much additional capital the fund will need to inject in the bank will depend on the booked value of assets when the acquisition closes, but the bank's most recent call report suggests it is likely to be at least $20 million.

Bridges and Senior EVP Susie Smith said there was no regulatory opposition to the bankruptcy reorganization and sale, but the terms will ultimately have to be approved by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and by the bankruptcy court.

If all goes smoothly, the sale could be completed by early September.

Metropolitan had assets of $1.03 billion and equity capital of $65.7 million as of March 31.

FFFII will play the role of "stalking horse" in the bankruptcy reorganization, according to Bridges. If a more favorable bid is received by the bankruptcy court, FFFII will have the opportunity to match it.

"After five years of challenges, we've come to the point where we have a solution to our challenges," Bridges told Arkansas Business.

Ford and Webb will be added to the board of directors of Metropolitan National Bank, but no other changes in management are planned.

"We were attracted to Metropolitan based on the strength of their leadership team and brand," Ford said in a press release. "We are career bankers and recognize quality banking. Metropolitan is an outstanding community bank with a solid footprint and reputation in Arkansas. Our combined resources and expertise will result in long-term success and growth."



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