Southern Bancorp to Buy Mississippi's Smallest Bank

Southern Bancorp Inc. of Arkadelphia announced Tuesday a plan to buy the smallest bank in Mississippi, the Bank of Bolivar County.

No details of the deal were included in the announcement.

The Bank of Bolivar County, founded in 1940, had $17.3 million in assets as of June 30, the smallest of 84 financial institutions currently chartered in Mississippi. It operates two branches — one in Shelby, where there is already a branch of Southern Bancorp Bank, and one in Mound Bayou, a new market for the Arkadelphia bank.

The bank's equity capital at mid-year was $1.4 million. The Bank of Bolivar County posted net income of $78,000 in 2013 and $2,000 in the first half of 2014.

Mound Bayou is "one of the nation's first independent African-American communities," according to the news release, but its "economic challenges" have "been exacerbated by the fact that the community's only bank… was limited in its lending ability due to size and increased regulations."

Southern, a Community Development Financial Institution, can help fill that need, CEO Darrin Williams said in the release.

"This agreement to acquire the Bank of Bolivar County aligns perfectly with that mission as these communities lie in one of the most impoverished areas of our country, the Mississippi Delta. We are committed to ensuring that they benefit from the unique brand of financial products and development services we offer," Williams said.

Southern Bancorp Bank had $1.2 billion in assets as of June 30. It currently operates 23 branched in Arkansas and 16 in Mississippi.