Jack Mullen, Paula Cholmondeley Join Board of Growing Bank of the Ozarks

Jack Mullen, Paula Cholmondeley Join Board of Growing Bank of the Ozarks
Jack Mullen and Paula Colmondeley, new members of Bank of the Ozarks Inc.'s board of directors.

Two new members joined the board of directors at Little Rock's Bank of the Ozarks Inc. at Monday morning's annual shareholders meeting.

Elected to serve were Jack Mullen, 66, recently retired director of derivatives and market strategy with AgriBank FCB since November 2004; and Paula Cholmondeley, 68, who served as a private consultant on strategic planning from 2004-09.

George Gleason, chairman and CEO, also announced that a third seat would be filled by Trevor Burgess, president, CEO and founder of the $1.7 billion-asset C1 Financial Inc. of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Burgess will join the board of directors after the $402.5 million acquisition of C1 closes later this year. He also will join Bank of the Ozarks as chief innovation officer and president of the company's Florida operations.

Exiting as directors are R. L. Qualls, 82, retired president of Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith and a director since 1997; Sherece West-Scantlebury, 50, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and a director since 2012; and Tyler Vance, 41, chief operating officer since 2013 and chief banking officer since 2011 and director since 2015.

After the shareholders meeting, Gleason presented an overview of the company's 2015 results and a preview of 2016 offered by first quarter results.

Net income totaled $51.7 million during the first quarter, a 29.6 percent increase over 2015. "We're off to a very good start this year," he said.

The company continued to generate admirable performance metrics including: 2.11 percent return on average assets versus the industry average of 1.04 percent; and an efficiency ratio near the top of the industry - 38.4 percent versus the industry average of 59.9 percent.

Gleason noted the efficiency ratio, which measures how much money it costs to produce a $1 of revenue, was tightened to 35.5 percent in the first quarter.

"We are extremely disciplined in the way we manage credit," he said.

Gleason highlighted the fiscal contributions of the company's Real Estate Specialties Group.

From a one-man operation that started in 2003 with Dan Thomas, group president, the RESG now deploys a staff of 86.

The group has endured losses on two loans totaling only $10.4 million since its inception, resulting in an annualized loss ratio of 0.11 percent.

"We have diligently sought to make this portfolio as bulletproof as possible," Gleason said.

The RESG portfolio totals $11 billion in loans and commitments, with large commercial construction loans providing much of the earnings juice. Organic loan growth accounts for 81.4 percent of the company's book of loans.

Of the 41 states where Bank of the Ozarks has funded projects, New York is the largest with more than $1.9 million followed by Arkansas at nearly $1.3 billion.

Gleason expects Florida and Georgia to move up the chart in the quarters to come.

The pending deals to acquire C1 and the $4.4 billion-asset Community & Southern Bank of Atlanta will push Bank of the Ozarks north of $17 billion in total assets.

The shareholder meeting and presentation were held at the company's headquarters in west Little Rock.