Citizens Bank Puts Phil Baldwin To Work On Growth

by George Waldon  on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 12:00 am  

Citizens Bank of Batesville officially has declared itself a buyer in the grow-or-go banking sweepstakes. That pronouncement was given public voice with the hiring of Phil Baldwin as president of the $544 million-asset lender and CEO-to-be in 2015.

Baldwin is portrayed as something akin to the last ingredient in a corporate recipe to produce a hearty helping of expansion for Citizens Bank. Doubling the size of the franchise through acquisition and opening offices in new markets is part of the dish.

“Working toward $1 billion in asset size is a goal,” Baldwin said.

Citizens Bank has made limited forays outside its Independence County base of operations by branching into several neighboring counties. Its leadership aspires to transform Citizens into a regional bank. That’s regional as in southeastern United States.

Jeff Teague, chairman of the board at Citizens, said the bank has spent the past several years preparing itself for the change by broadening its talent, building its capital and improving its technological capabilities.

“We think we’re ready now to move into other markets,” Teague said. “We will grow deliberately and at a level that will provide a good return.”

Will the expansion of Citizens Bank be fueled by an initial public offering of stock?

“It’s not part of our business model,” Teague said.

John Dews will remain as CEO of the bank until the end of 2014, with plans to stay as a director after that.

He said the attributes are in place to support a bank four times the current size of Citizens.

“Phil rounds it out with his experience and talent,” said Dews, who relinquished his title as president to Baldwin as part of the transition.

Baldwin knows how to build a profitable billion-dollar banking concern.



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