Update: Phil Baldwin Returning to Arkansas as Batesville Bank Plans Growth

Phil Baldwin
Phil Baldwin
John Dews
John Dews

Phil Baldwin, former CEO of Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia, is returning to banking in Arkansas in a few weeks as president of The Citizens Bank of Batesville.

John Dews, currently president and CEO, will remain as CEO until the end of 2014. Dews, who joined The Citizens Bank in 2010, plans to return to his hometown of El Dorado, where he spent nearly 25 years with Simmons First Bank of El Dorado, ultimately as CEO.

Dews said he will be "59 and a half" at the end of 2014. He has not decided what to do next but does not think he is ready to retire, he told Arkansas Business.

"I feel a great sense of completion," Dews said of his work at The Citizens Bank, where he restored earnings and "mostly restored" asset quality. The bank has assets of about $548 million.

Dews said he had watched Baldwin's career for two decades and considered him to be one of the "top five bankers in Arkansas." (The others on Dews' list: Tommy May of Simmons First National Corp., Reynie Rutledge of First Security Bancorp, Johnny Allison of Home BancShares Inc. and George Gleason of Bank of the Ozarks Inc.)

Baldwin joined Southern Bancorp in 2000 and left in 2011, a departure that was originally described as a retirement but was later revealed to be part of a slow-motion management shakeup at the country's largest rural development bank. He relocated to Atlanta and had served as national board chair of United Way of America and as president and CEO for CredAbility, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency based in Atlanta. 

"I was looking at trying to get back to Arkansas," Baldwin told Arkansas Business on Friday. "Atlanta's a fun place but just a little bit too big."

He will be moving to Batesville and beginning his new job on Dec. 2. He was attracted, he said, by the vision of Jeff Teague, chairman and largest stockholder, who is interested in "growing the bank into a sort of regional bank."

According to a Citizens Bank news release, the company's board of directors has committed to a 10-year plan "to seek out acqusition and expansion opportunities." Friday's announcement about Baldwin's and Dews' new jobs are part of that plan.

Currently, Citizens Bank has six branches in Batesville and one each in Pleasant Plains, Imboden, Cave City and Mountain View. Citizens Bank was founded in 1953.