Makris: Simmons First Looking at Nearby States for Expansion

Makris: Simmons First Looking at Nearby States for Expansion
George Makris

Simmons First National Corp., having moved into Tennessee and expanded its presence in Missouri and Kansas, is now casting eyes on more neighboring states, CEO George Makris Jr. said Tuesday night.

In a presentation at the publicly traded company's annual banquet for shareholders at the Pine Bluff Convention Center, Makris showed a map of Simmons Bank's four-state footprint and then one that identified Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Kentucky as markets in which Simmons may be "dipping our toe" in the next two or three years.

In a gentle jab at competitors Bank of the Ozarks and Centennial Bank, Makris said he didn't expect to open any loan production offices in New York.

Every week, Makris says, the exceptionally well-capitalized bank — it has twice the Tier 1 capital ratio generally considered well-capitalized — gets "at least five opportunities to visit" with other banks interested in merging.

The company (Nasdaq: SFNC), like other Arkansas banks, has seen a growth spurt in recent years. In the first quarter last year, Simmons was wrapping up out-of-state, stock-swap purchases that increased the size of the company by 65 percent.

This year, Simmons converted from a national to a state charter, one of several Arkansas banks to do so.

The company issued its annual proxy statement in March.

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