Judge Approves Simmons First's $53.6M Bid for Metropolitan National Bank

by Lance Turner and George Waldon  on Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 9:37 am  

A Metropolitan National Bank branch in Little Rock.

Simmons First National Corp., a publicly traded bank holding company (Nasdaq: SFNC) that operates eight separate bank charters, intends to combine Metropolitan with its flagship, Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff. The move will grow Simmons First National Bank by nearly 50 percent, taking it from $1.99 billion in assets to nearly $3 billion -- assets that would call for perhaps $50 million in additional capital.

Simmons First National Bank has 35 offices in Arkansas and nine each in Missouri and Kansas. Metropolitan National Bank has 45 offices in Arkansas. The combined entity would have significant overlap with a sister bank, Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas. That operation, headquartered at Rogers, has about $244.3 million in assets.

The final phase of selling Metropolitan, which had been hit hard by losses sustained on loans in northwest Arkansas, became public in July, when Metropolitan and Ford Financial announced that Ford had offered $16 million for 100 percent of the bank's stock.

Monday's auction came after Metropolitan spent years struggling to get out from under problem loans in northwest Arkansas, which led to almost $100 million in losses beginning in 2008. The bank has been under a supervisory agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency since May 2008 and had been looking for a partner to help recapitalize the bank since 2009.

A map of the Simmons-Metropolitan Bank branch footprint. The map includes only branches of Metropolitan and Simmons' Pine Bluff- and Rogers-based banks.



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