Federal Reserve, State Bank Board OK Home BancShares, Liberty Deal

Home BancShares Inc. of Conway said Tuesday that its previously announced $280 million merger with Liberty Bancshares Inc. of Jonesboro has been approved by the Federal Reserve Board and the Arkansas State Bank Board.

Publicly traded Home BancShares (Nasdaq: HOMB) said the deal, announced in June, is expected to close in "late October" subject to approval by shareholders of Home BancShares and Liberty Bancshares. The two companies will hold their respective shareholder meetings on Oct. 23 in Conway and in Jonesboro.

Under terms of the deal, Liberty shareholders will receive $250 million of Home BancShares common stock plus $30 million in cash.

The merger will make Home BancShares, the parent company of Centennial Bank, the second-largest bank holding company headquartered in Arkansas.

Home BancShares also said it had gone effective with its Form S-4 registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The boards of both companies met Aug. 30 to approve additional steps for the deal to proceed.

"Effectiveness of the registration statement and the approvals by the Federal Reserve and the Arkansas State Bank Board permits us to move ahead with the merger in a timely manner," John W. Allison, Home BancShares chairman, said in a news release. "Integration planning teams from both banks are making very good progress and we look forward to delivering the benefits of this merger to our shareholders, customers, and communities."

Randy Sims, the CEO of Home Bancshares, said customers of both banks will be able to use all of the combined company's 92 locations in Arkansas, Alabama and Florida "in early December."