Home BancShares Eyes Another Florida Bank, Expects More Acquisitions

Home BancShares Inc. of Conway is pursuing a deal to purchase Florida Traditions Bank, which has eight branches between Orlando and Tampa, Home BancShares Chairman Johnny Allison said Thursday night at the company's annual shareholders meeting in Little Rock.

"We have not signed a definitive agreement," he said, adding the purchase should be finalized next week. The company expects the deal to close late in the third quarter.

The purchase marks the publicly traded bank holding company's latest bank acquisition in Florida. Traditions operates eight banking locations in central Florida, including its main office in Dade City.

As of March 31, Traditions had about $312 million in total assets, $249 million in loans, and $279 million in deposits.

Through the deal, Traditions' shareholders will receive about $43 million of Home Bancshares common stock.

"It ties Orlando and Tampa together so from a strategic point of view it makes a lot of sense for us," Allison said. "We’re very pleased with that transaction."

Allison said Home BancShares won't require additional capital to do the deal.

During the meeting, Allison hinted that more acquisitions should take place this year. He said he's been looking for other Florida banks to buy after seeing that last year’s acquisition of Liberty Bancshares Inc. of Jonesboro was going to be more successful than expected.

"Another acquisition or two should occur this year," Allison said.

Home BancShares now owns 147 bank branches, with 88 of those in Arkansas, seven in South Alabama and the rest in Florida.

"We are a player in Arkansas and have a pretty nice footprint since the Liberty trade," he said.

Earlier Thursday, Home BancShares Inc. of Conway announced another record quarterly profit. The parent company of Centennial Bank reported first-quarter profit of $27.3 million or 42 cents per share, up 56 percent from $17.5 million or 31 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Excluding $849,000 in merger expenses related to the Liberty acquisition, Home BancShares would have reported earnings per share of 43 cents.

"Our team rocked this quarter," Allison said, adding that with the $27.3 million profit in the first-quarter "we are on target to earn over $100 million this year."