First Bank of Hampton to Buy Struggling First Community Bank of Crawford County

First Community Bank of Crawford County, recently identified by federal regulators as "significantly undercapitalized," said Tuesday that it is being sold to First Bank of Hampton, pending regulatory approvals from the Arkansas State Bank Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  

The deal will fold First Community's operations into First Bank. Financial terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, were not disclosed.

Under the deal, Terry Carson, president of First Community, will become market president for Crawford County.

"Our bankers are looking forward to the opportunity of providing expanded financial services to our customers in Crawford and surrounding counties with the support of First Bank’s ownership and management team," Carson said in a news release.

Phil Foster, president and CEO of First Bank, said the expansion into western Arkansas is a great opportunity for First Bank. He called Crawford County "a very attractive market to be in."

First Community Bank reported a loss of $931,000 through the first six months of 2013. The bank recorded annual losses of $1.2 million in 2012, $4.1 million in 2011. Equity capital is also down, falling from $10.6 million at year-end 2010 to $4.3 million as of June 30.

In July, First Community Bank entered into a consent order with the FDIC that called for improved capital and reduced concentrations of credit. Then on Friday, the FDIC made public a Sept. 12 "prompt corrective action directive" that labeled the bank "significantly undercapitalized."

"The Bank's rapidly deteriorating capital condition and the inability of Bank mangement to return the Bank to a safe and sound condition require that the FDIC immediately take prompt corrective action concerning the Bank," the order said. The FDIC gave First Community Bank 45 days from Sept. 12 to bring its capital back up to the point considered adequate.

The $67 million-asset lender has a staff of 21, with a full-service location in Van Buren and Alma. The company also operates a limited service facility in Van Buren. 

First Bank has four locations in Camden, and one each in Hampton, Junction City, Rogers and Siloam Springs. First Bank's total assets as of Sept. 30 were $257 million.

First Community Bank opened for business on July 11, 2000. In 2004, Johnny Chambers, CEO of Chambers Bancshares Inc. of Danville, led an unsuccessful play to acquire controlling interest in First Community. Regulators ultimately ruled that the stealth effort violated prohibitions for buying a newly chartered bank before its fifth birthday.

In the end, the Federal Insurance Deposit Corp. collected $432,000 in fines from Chambers and his associates: Jacob Perryman "Perry" Mikles III of Booneville, Everett Emmett "J.R." Young Jr., Rick Leon Millsap, CEO of Petit Jean Poultry in Danville, and Danville businessmen Thomas Roy Akin and Bobby W. Stephens.