Simmons First Completes Missouri, Tennessee Aquisitions

Simmons First Completes Missouri, Tennessee Aquisitions
George Makris

Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff on Friday completed the previously announced acquisition of two bank holding companies, one in Missouri and one in Tennessee.

The acquisition of Liberty Bancshares Inc., parent company of Liberty Bank of Springfield, Missouri, and Community First Bancshares Inc., the parent company of First State Bank of Union City, Tennessee, brings approximately $3 billion in assets, pushing the holding company's assets to $7.6 billion.

Simmons, which had been the fourth-largest banking concern headquartered in Arkansas, leapfrogs over both Home BancShares of Conway, parent of Centennial Bank, and Bank of the Ozarks Inc. of Little Rock. But even at $7.6 billion, Simmons' assets are barely half of Arvest Bank's.

Both Liberty Bank, with $1.1 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, and First State Bank, with $1.9 billion, will temporarily operate as separate bank subsidiaries of Simmons First National Corp., headquartered in Pine Bluff. Merging Liberty into SFNC's Simmons First National Bank is scheduled for April 24, and First State Bank is scheduled to be merged on Sept. 4.

Simmons announced the deals - $243.4 million for First State and $207 million for Liberty Bank - just weeks apart last May.

"These acquisitions bring together three high-performing organizations with a shared commitment to associates, customers, communities and shareholders," Chairman and CEO George A. Makris Jr. said in a news release. "Together, we create a premier community banking organization positioned for continued, long-term success."

Liberty Chairman and CEO Gary Metzger will join Simmons Bank as regional chairman for Missouri and Kansas. John Clark, president and CEO of Community First, will become regional chairman for Tennessee.