Other Banks Considered Buying National Bank of Arkansas

by George Waldon  on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 12:00 am  

NBA organizer Ron Tullos (circa 1988) (Photo by W. Geoffrey Hartmann)

The pending sale of National Bank of Arkansas will mark an end to a 32-year run for the North Little Rock enterprise.

The purchase price that an Arvest Bank affiliate is paying for the $186.7 million-asset lender is portrayed as something of a moving target.

One NBA insider placed a conservative estimate of the transaction at about $102 per share.

At that valuation, the deal is worth about $9.6 million.

The math involved in the acquisition equation is described as 1.25 times adjusted book value.

Other banks inquired about purchasing NBA before Arvest struck its recent deal, which is expected to close by November with regulatory approval. Those overtures from would-be buyers such as Bank of the Ozarks, Home BancShares and a Scooter Stuart-led One Bank & Trust didn’t get very far.

“Like any community bank these days, it’s a struggle, so I think it’s a good time to sell,” said Little Rock attorney Skip Davidson. “It would have been better to sell in 2005, of course.”

His 23.9 percent stake, through Davidson Holding Co., in NBA’s parent company, National Banking Corp., is worth nearly $2.3 million based on the $102 per share price.

Davidson’s block of NBC stock is second only to the bank’s chairman, Bobby J. Osborne. Osborne, through BJO Ltd., controls a 53.1 percent stake worth nearly $5.1 million.

NBA was marketed as the “Little Bank with the Big Heart” not long after it opened for business on Jan. 2, 1981. But that warm and fuzzy slogan belied an early history of conflict and controversy that included internal feuding and boardroom dissension fueled by performance issues.

The infighting blew up into litigation after a March 28, 1989, shareholder coup ousted Ron Tullos, the bank’s president and CEO, who orchestrated its formation despite considerable obstacles.

Tullos, who died Feb. 6, 2009, recounted that fateful proxy battle in a 1992 interview with Arkansas Business: “What I said to them that night was, ‘See you around boys.’ It was a moment of triumph for them and later humiliation for me ... . It certainly hasn’t been forgotten.”



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