Bank of the Ozarks' $800M Deal Gives It Big Presence in Georgia

Bank of the Ozarks' $800M Deal Gives It Big Presence in Georgia
Bank of the Ozarks CEO George Gleason (Jason Burt)

Bank of the Ozarks' record-setting deal to buy Community & Southern Bank of Atlanta will mean the bank George Gleason built will have almost as many branches in Georgia as it has in Arkansas.

The company announced the all-stock deal late Monday: just shy of $800 million for CSB's $4.4 billion in assets. It is the single biggest acquisition by an Arkansas bank in terms of both purchase price and assets acquired, according to Bank of the Ozarks.

Bank of the Ozarks, with 14 acquisitions under its belt since 2010, will grow its assets — $9.3 billion as of Sept. 30 — by nearly 50 percent in a single gulp. Already the second-largest bank headquartered in Arkansas, the addition of CSB will move Bank of the Ozarks away from the pack of also-rans and into striking distance of Arvest Bank of Fayetteville, which had assets of $15.4 billion as of June 30.

And privately held CSB is profitable, earning $13.2 million in 2014 and $10.8 million in the first half of 2015. Bank of the Ozarks, one of the most efficient profit-generators in the country, earned $125 million last year and $89.4 million in the first half of this year.

The publicly traded Little Rock bank (Nasdaq: OZRK) already has 28 branches in Georgia, the result of aggressive acquisition of failing banks along the East Coast during the financial crisis. With the addition of CSB's network, Bank of the Ozarks will have 75 Georgia branches compared with 80 in Arkansas.

"This combination is a hand in glove fit," CEO Gleason said in a news release announcing the deal. "The synergies created by our highly complementary combined network of 75 Georgia banking offices, with virtually no overlap, will give us a powerful presence in Georgia, providing customers with great access and convenience."

CSB also has a branch in Jacksonville, Florida. Bank of the Ozarks already has 10 Florida branches, but none in what Gleason called the "favorable Jacksonville market."

With the purchase, Bank of the Ozarks will also get Pat Frawley, a former bank regulator who created CSB in 2010 and began rolling up failing banks in Georgia, where 90 banks have failed in the past seven years. Frawley will become chief executive of Bank of the Ozarks's Georgia office when the deal is completed.

No target date for completing the acquisition was given.