Simmons Bank Becomes Sole Shareholder of Heartland Bank

Simmons Bank Becomes Sole Shareholder of Heartland Bank

Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff was its own high bidder Monday when it auctioned off the capital stock of Heartland Bank of Little Rock, which it held as collateral for "certain indebtedness" of Heartland's parent company, Rock Bancshares Inc.

The terms of the purchase were not immediately announced by Simmons, which is the banking subsidiary of publicly traded Simmons First National Corp. The auction, held at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Pine Bluff, had been announced last week in legal notices that appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Heartland remains a separately chartered bank, but Simmons' release announcing the purchase said "Simmons is evaluating its next steps with respect to the institution." Heartland's assets stood at $199 million as of June 30, a fraction of Simmons' assets, which are expected to top $13 billion when two pending out-of-state acquisitions are completed.

“Heartland’s challenging circumstances have been well publicized over the past several months,” Marty Casteel, president and CEO of Simmons Bank, said in the release. "Simmons’ immediate goal is to create a stable environment for that bank to continue providing its customers with the products and services they need."

Larry Bates has assumed the role of Heartland’s chairman, president and CEO. Steve Wade was named executive vice president of lending and Lisa Hunter was named EVP of operations. Judy Lawton had been president of Heartland since March 2016, when Richard O'Brien resigned as CEO. O'Brien has succeeded Walter Quinn, who resigned in late 2015 as his own financial problems became entwined with Heartland's.

As Arkansas Business reported two weeks ago, Heartland had racked up a loss of more than $11.7 million in the first half of 2017 after losing nearly $7.9 million in 2016. Heartland's equity capital was $8.8 million at the end of June, down from more than $29 million a year earlier.

As of June 30, Heartland had 37 employees in five offices - two in Little Rock and one each in Bryant, Fordyce and Sheridan.

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