Simmons First National Closes on Metropolitan National Bank Acquisition

Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff said Monday afternoon that it has closed on its $53.6 million acquisition of Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock.

Per the deal, Simmons said it will merge Metropolitan's operations into Simmons.

"We are excited about expanding our 110-year history to communities and customers in both central and northwest Arkansas," George A. Makris Jr., CEO-elect of Simmons First National Corp., said in a news release. "This merger is a very positive step for our organization and we are confident that it brings long-term benefits to our customers, associates, shareholders and the communities we serve."

Simmons said the deal will give it greater presence in central and northwest Arkansas, allowing it to enter new markets including Benton, Bryant, Cabot and Maumelle.

Simmons bought Metropolitan from Metropolitan's holding company, Rogers Bancshares Inc., during a September auction that included bids by Arvest Bank of Fayetteville and Ford Financial Fund II of Dallas.

The final phase of selling Metropolitan, which had been hit hard by losses sustained on loans in northwest Arkansas, became public in July, when Metropolitan and Ford Financial announced that Ford had offered $16 million for 100 percent of the bank's stock. To facilitate the sale, Rogers Bancshares declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

On Monday, Simmons said that all current Simmons First and Metropolitan branches will stay open until at least March 21. Customers will be notified of any subsequent consolidation of branches.

In September, Simmons said it expected "significant" branch consolidation in as integrates Metropolitan, possibly closing between 14 and 35 branchesMuch of the branch overlap between the companies is in northwest Arkansas.

As part of the integration, Simmons merged two of its eight bank charters, Simmons First National Bank of Little Rock and Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas of Rogers, on Nov. 1. With the addition of Metropolitan, Simmons First National Bank has assets of about $3.3 billion and the holding company's assets total $4.4 billion.

Simmons is a seven-bank financial holding company. In addition to Pine Bluff, it has operations in El Dorado, Hot Springs, Lake Village, Jonesboro, Russellville and Searcy. The company also has banking operations in Missouri and Kansas.