Bank of the Ozarks Makes $67.8M Deal for NC Bank

Bank of the Ozarks Inc. is expanding its North Carolina franchise in a $67.8 million acquisition announced today.

The $4 billion-asset bank holding company is buying the First National Bank of Shelby in a stock-cash transaction. About $3.8 million of the deal reflects the purchase of First National real estate owned by affiliates of the bank.

At Dec. 31, 2012, First National had total assets of $857 million - increasing BOZ's size by more than 20 percent - loans of $474 million and deposits of $652 million. First National recorded profits of $884,000 in 2012 and $31,000 in 2011, which followed a loss of nearly $8 million in 2010.

The bank, chartered in 1874, operates 14 North Carolina banking offices in a four county area west of Charlotte including nine offices in Cleveland County, three offices in Gaston County and one office each in Lincoln and Rutherford counties.

"Bank of the Ozarks has been operating in nearby Charlotte for over a decade, giving us good insight into the market," George Gleason, chairman and CEO of Bank of the Ozarks, said in a prepared statement.

"We are pleased to expand our service area to these additional communities. Customers of First National Bank can expect local decision making and the same quality of friendly hometown banking they have long enjoyed, in addition to benefiting from a broader range of financial services."

Helen Jeffords, president and chief executive officer of The First National Bank of Shelby, said "Bank of the Ozarks, one of the most respected community banks in the country, shares our customer focus and tradition of community service. It was of great importance to us to join a company with a strong sense of community, outstanding financial strength and progressive leadership. Our customers, employees, communities and stockholders will all benefit from our partnership with Bank of the Ozarks."

The terms of the sales agreement were unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies. The transaction is expected to close during the second or third quarter of 2013.