Whirlwind Romance Leads to Corporate Union of Summit Bank, Bank of the Ozarks

by George Waldon  on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 12:00 am  

George Gleason (Photo by Jason Burt)

The Bank of the Ozarks-Summit Bank union represents the combination of two profitable banking ventures that grew their Arkansas operations largely through de novo branching.

Until the 2010 launch of an FDIC-assisted buying spree, Bank of the Ozarks opted with rare exception to grow its footprint in Arkansas and elsewhere by building instead of buying branches.

“We’re not in an environment now where de novo branching makes economic sense like it [once] did,” said Gleason, who took the company public in July 1997.

The starting point for Summit was a de novo bank in Magnolia that Whipple retained after the 1998 sale of Horizon Bancorp Inc. in a stock swap valued at $120 million. Horizon Bank of Columbia County, chartered in 1996, was excluded from the transaction with Mercantile Bancorporation Inc. of St. Louis because state law prohibits the sale of banks that are less than five years old.

After a two-year non-compete agreement elapsed on Feb. 14, 2000, Whipple moved the charter from Magnolia to Arkadelphia and rechristened it Summit Bank. Total assets numbered about $75 million back then.



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