Bank Deals Fly Despite a Flattening Of Deposits

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

Total bank deposits in Arkansas declined by about a half-percent in the 12 months that ended June 30, but that certainly doesn’t mean the state’s banking industry is stagnant.

All over the country, the banking industry is consolidating and, for the first time since 2008, most of the deals are “live banks” — not acquisitions assisted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (There were 490 of those between Jan. 1, 2008, and last Wednesday.)

(GET THE LIST: Purchase the Largest Banks by Deposit in PDF or spreadsheet formats by clicking here.)

Arkansas is no exception, of course, with bank deals coming fast and furious since Bank of America announced last December that it would sell 29 branches to Arvest Bank of Fayetteville, including nine in Arkansas. That deal closed in March, in time to be reflected in the FDIC’s June 30 “summary of deposits,” which was released on Sept. 30.

Since then:

• Home BancShares Inc. of Conway announced (June 25) and closed (Oct. 23) a $280 million acquisition of Liberty Bancshares Inc. of Jonesboro, a deal that will create the second-largest Arkansas-chartered bank when Liberty Bank of Arkansas is folded into Home BancShares’ Centennial Bank.

• Sigma Holdings Inc. of Little Rock, a newly formed investment company led by veteran Little Rock banker Troy Duke and Garland County businessman Lewis Ray “L.R.” Gardner, announced in May a deal to buy the Bank of Rison.

• First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas, the publicly traded parent company of First Federal Bank of Harrison, announced on July 1 a $124 million cash and stock deal to acquire First National Security Co., the holding company for First National Bank of Hot Springs and Heritage Bank in Jonesboro. The combination, set to close in the fourth quarter, will almost triple First Federal Bancshares’ assets to about $1.4 billion, although the three banks will continue to be operated as separate charters.

• Rogers Bancshares Inc. announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy to facilitate the sale of Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock at auction. The winning bid, $53.6 million, came from Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff, which collapsed its Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas into its Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff on Friday and will do the same with Metropolitan when regulatory approval is final, probably by mid-December.

• First Community Bank of Crawford County, recently identified by federal regulators as "significantly undercapitalized," announced last week that it would be sold to First Bank of Hampton, pending regulatory approval.

And those are just the in-state deals. Greg McKinney, chief financial officer of Bank of the Ozarks Inc., told Arkansas Business last month that his company has “more acquisition opportunity and more investment bankers calling us and trying to pitch us a potential bank acquisition than we can handle. We have to make the list and do some tabletop due diligence and prioritization.”

In the past year, the publicly traded Little Rock bank has acquired a one-branch bank, The Citizens Bank of Geneva, Ala., and completed the $68.5 million purchase of First National Bank of Shelby, N.C.



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