Johnny Allison on Centennial Bank's Acquisition March Through Florida

Johnny Allison, chairman and founder of Centennial’s parent company, Home BancShares Inc., talks about the banks being bought up in the Southeast.

March 12, 2010: FDIC-assisted purchase of Old Southern Bank, Orlando, Fla., with seven branches, $319.7 million in deposits and a loss-share transaction on $282.7 million in assets.

Allison: “There’s more people in the Orlando MSA than Arkansas. The potential there is huge. We wanted to be in on the growth of a powerful economic engine, so we wanted to be there, and we’re pleased to be there.”

March 26, 2010: FDIC-assisted purchase of Key West Bank, Key West, Fla., with assets of $87.5 million and deposits of $66.7 million.

Allison: “We were already there, and it brought us the value of an in-market acquisition. The bank had 25 employees. We needed five of them. The savings were tremendous. We turned their one office into a full-service branch.”

July 30, 2010: FDIC-assisted purchases of Coastal Community Bank, Panama City, Fla., with total assets of $372.9 million and total deposits of $363.2 million, and Bayside Savings Bank of St. Joe, Fla., with total assets of $66.1 million and total deposits of $52.4 million.

Allison: “That’s a market we wanted to be in. We wanted to be in the Panhandle. It got overbuilt similar to northwest Arkansas, and it is recovering. Then, they had the oil spill. That was pretty devastating. But they’ve just had one of their best hospitality seasons ever. The market is turning. We bought it when it was down, and it’s coming around.”

Oct. 1, 2010: FDIC-assisted purchase of Wakulla Bank, Crawfordville, Fla., with $353 million in assets, $244 million in loans, $71 million in investment securities and $355 million in deposits.

Allison: “That was an overlap deal that also takes in Tallahassee. It gave us in-market merger savings with our earlier deals for Bayside and Coastal. We like the Tallahassee market. It’s a capital city market.”

Nov. 19, 2010: FDIC-assisted purchase of Gulf State Community Bank, Carrabelle, Fla., with $84.4 million in assets and five branches that employed 60.

Allison: “This was a nice in-market deal for our Panhandle operations. We didn’t keep a single facility. We picked up an insurance agency, which was nice, and picked up about $100 million in deposits. It was truly a 100 percent in-market merger. The savings were tremendous.”

Feb. 16, 2012: Cash purchase of 17 Vision Bank locations in Alabama and Florida from Park National Corp. of Newark, Ohio. The $27.9 million transaction also encompassed $354 million in loans and $520 million in deposits.

Allison: “That was another in-market merger for us. We picked up a few talented people. The staff of 200 people was pared to 80. You can see the savings. We closed three locations, and we’ll probably close three or four more.

“From day one, it was a very accretive transaction and very profitable for us, and the market is growing. In the future, it will allow us to move more into Mobile proper to the west and into Pensacola to the east.”

Aug. 14, 2012: Offers $1.4 million cash for Premier Bank of Tallahassee, Fla., with six branches and $282.4 million in total assets, $179.5 million in loans and $253.0 million in deposits. The proposed deal with the bank’s parent company, Premier Bank Holding Co., is subject to the approval of U.S. Bankruptcy Court officials and regulators.

Allison: “The holding company for Premier Bank owed the federal government TARP money and owed on trust-preferred stock, about $35 million in all. There is opposition [to our bid] from trust-preferred stockholders, but if the regulators shut the bank down, they won’t get anything.

“Financially, if this doesn’t work, this bank will get taken down by the regulators next year.

“Will we win it? We hope so. I don’t think anyone else will bid.

“We didn’t do this lightly. We did due diligence two years ago, one year ago and even two months ago. There is a trust factor between us and their management.

“We don’t move overnight on deals. That’s not the only one we’ve spent two years on out there.”