Posted 2/18/2013 12:00 am
Updated 10 months ago
Think back to November, when Whispers noted that a Wells Fargo & Co. corporate jet had spent several days parked at Searcy Municipal Airport for reasons unknown.
Now hear this:
The fourth-largest bank in the country, which has to this point limited its lending presence in Arkansas to three former Century Bank branches in Texarkana and Ashdown, is opening what it calls a “commercial banking office” in west Little Rock this month and is bringing in an experienced hand from St. Louis to run it.
That would be Kevin Handley, a loan team manager and senior relationship manager whose region has included both Missouri and Arkansas.
• He’ll be setting up shop temporarily in the Wells Fargo Advisors building at 12921 Cantrell Road.
• He intends to hire two “relationship managers” and one “relationship administrator.” (The sound you hear is 100 commercial lenders printing out their resumes.)
• He will move that team to separate offices in mid-2013, but it seems no permanent home has been settled on. (Leasing agents, start your cellphones.)
Handley has a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University and an MBA from Washington University at St. Louis. He’s married with three kids and has been involved in youth basketball and Cub Scouts.
According to a statement from the bank, “strong growth in Arkansas” has inspired Wells Fargo to “enhance the financial services it provides middle market companies” here.
“In addition to traditional commercial banking services, technologically advanced treasury management and asset-based lending, the Little Rock team will offer specialized lending for government, food and agriculture,” the company said.
Last fall, when that jet was parked at Searcy, one of its passengers was rumored to have told a local that the group was on a bank-buying mission. And, of course, there could have been some truth to that.
But Jack Milligan, editor of Bank Director magazine, noted last month that “traditional acquirers like JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co.” simply haven’t been buying. One good reason, Milligan wrote, is that “JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are dangerously close to the 10 percent nationwide cap on bank deposits — and Bank of America actually exceeds it by 2.62 percent … .”
It may be that Wells Fargo will be content with three branches in southwest Arkansas and a commercial loan production office in Little Rock.