George Gleason: Bank Still A Player for FDIC-Assisted Deals

Shareholders at Bank of the Ozarks approved all 13 nominees for its 2013 board of directors Monday at its annual meeting.

New members joining the board of the publicly traded (Nasdaq: OZRK) Little Rock-based bank holding company are Peter Kenny, 54, managing director of institutional sales trading at Knight Equity Markets Ltd. of Jersey City, N.J.; and Dan Thomas, 50, chief lending officer and president of the bank's real estate specialties group.

They replace Mark Ross, chief operating officer, who has served as a director since 1992; and Kennith Smith, retired owner of Smith Cattle Farm and Mulberry Lumber Co., who has served as a director since 1997.

George Gleason, chairman and chief executive officer, also discussed company highlights and offered a few glimpses into the future at Monday's meeting, held at the Bank of the Ozarks corporate headquarters at 17901 Chenal Parkway in west Little Rock.

Gleason said the company remains a player in bidding on FDIC-assisted acquisitions although efforts during 2012 proved unsuccessful.

"We are still active in that arena and hope to make more acquisitions," he said. The company has closed seven FDIC-assisted transactions to date, which have helped build the bank's presence in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Gleason noted that Bank of the Ozarks is positioned to build its franchise as troubled lenders continue to work through problems.

"We're in a great window of opportunity," he said. "Problems create opportunities. We like to capitalize on opportunities."

Gleason said the company continues to maintain its tradition of high performance as exemplified by its average return on equity and average return on assets.

Bank of the Ozarks recorded a 16.8 percent ROE compared to the industry average of 8.92 percent. The company's ROA (2.04 percent) was more than twice the industry average, 1.00 percent.

In addition to Gleason, Kenny and Thomas, other directors include Jean Arehart, 72, retired senior lending officer and a director since 2002; Nicholas Brown, 54, president and CEO of Southwest Power Pool of Little Rock and director since 2012; Richard Cisne, 62, founding partner of the Little Rock accounting firm of Hudson Cisne & Co. and a director since 2004; Robert East, 65, chairman of the Little Rock general contracting firm of East-Harding Inc. and a director since 1997; Linda Gleason, 58, deputy CEO and assistant secretary of Bank of the Ozarks, wife of George Gleason and a director since 1987; Henry Mariani, 74, chairman of NLC Products Inc. of Little Rock and director since 1997; Robert Proost, 75, a retired A.G. Edwards executive and a director since 2011; R.L. Qualls, 78, retired president of Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith and a director since 1997; John Reynolds, 48, a pathologist and laboratory director for Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge, Ga., and a director since 2012; and Sherece West-Scantlebury, 47, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and a director since 2012.

Shareholders also:

  • Approved an amendment to the company's 2009 restricted stock plan that would increase the number of common shares authorized for issuance from 400,000 to 800,000 shares.
  • Approved an amendment and restatement of the company's non-employee director stock option plan. 
  • Ratified the audit committee's selection and appointment of the accounting firm of Crowe Horwath LLP of Oak Brook, Ill., as independent auditors for 2012. The company has performed this duty since 2006.
  • Holding an advisory, non-binding vote on the company's executive compensation.