Home BancShares to Acquire Marine Lender LH-Finance

Home BancShares to Acquire Marine Lender LH-Finance
(Home BancShares)

Home BancShares Inc. of Conway said Thursday that it signed a deal to buy LH-Finance, which is part of People's United Bank N.A. of Bridgeport, Connecticut, adding to its robust marine lending operation, Shore Premier Finance.

LH-Finance was acquired by People's United as part of its recent acquisition of United Financial Bancorp, the holding company for United Bank. LH-Finance provides retail financing to end customers and wholesale financing to boat dealers. 

Home BancShares said that, per the deal, its subsidiary, Centennial Bank, would acquire about $405 million in LH-Finance loan balances from People's United. Those balances will eventually be housed within Shore Premier Finance, a division of Centennial.

"We have just returned from the Miami boat show, working with our Shore Premier Finance team," Home BancShares Chairman, CEO and President John Allison said. "The excitement and enthusiasm from manufacturers and dealers is very contagious. Looks like perfect timing for [Home BancShares]."

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020 and would require Centennial to establish a new loan production office in Baltimore, Maryland. 

"The consolidation of LH-Finance into Shore Premier Finance is a natural evolution of two marine finance specialty teams that share common roots," Shore Premier Finance President John Marshall said. "Further, this is an exciting opportunity to leverage scale and our unique business model to provide even greater service to our manufacturer, wholesale dealer, and retail customers."

Home BancShares ramped up its marine financing pipeline in 2018 with the $402 million purchase of Shore Premier Finance of Chesapeake, Virginia. At the time, the deal included a $383.4 million loan portfolio. Since then, Shore has grown to a $517 million lender.

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