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Arvest No. 1 Bank by Assets, But List is ShufflingLock Icon

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A near 10% increase in assets helped push Arvest Bank of Fayetteville to the top of Arkansas Business’ annual list of the state’s biggest banks by assets, but more changes are in store as the state’s third- and fourth-largest banks prepare to close significant acquisitions.

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► Largest Banks by Asset

Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff is No. 3 with $24.69 billion on this year’s list, which ranks Arkansas-chartered banks by total assets as of Dec. 31, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Its parent, Simmons First National Corp., announced in November that it would acquire Spirit of Texas Bank SSB in a cash and stock deal valued at $581 million.

At the time, the company predicted that absorbing Spirit’s $3.15 billion in assets would put Simmons’ assets at more than $28 billion — enough to push it past Arvest as Arkansas’ biggest bank.

Simmons expects the Spirit acquisition, which the state Bank Department approved on March 10, to close in the second quarter.

Assets will swell at another top five bank. Home BancShares Inc. of Conway, the parent of Centennial Bank, is No. 4 on this year’s list with $18.02 billion in assets. It announced in September a $919 million all-stock deal to acquire Happy Bancshares Inc. of Happy, Texas.

The move scoops up more than $6 billion in assets. Once the deal closes, likely this month, Home BancShares’ assets will surpass $24 billion. (For more on the Texas acquisitions, see Arkansas Eyes Upon Texas Lending.)

That wouldn’t be enough to overtake this year’s top two banks. At No. 1, Arvest, which surpassed previous No. 1 Bank OZK of Little Rock, had $26.77 billion in assets. No. 2 Bank OZK posted $26.53 billion. At No. 5 is First Security Bank of Searcy at $8.22 billion.

Top Asset Growth Among Arkansas Banks, 2020-21


Encore Bank, Little Rock



Armor Bank, Forrest City



Legacy National Bank, Springdale



Bodcaw Bank, Stamps



Central Bank, Little Rock



First National Bank, Paragould



Southern Bancorp Bank, Arkadelphia



First State Bank, Russellville



Gateway Bank, Rison



United Bank, Springdale


Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. call reports for Dec. 31, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021       

On a percentage basis, no state bank grew as much as No. 12 Encore Bank of Little Rock, up 95% to $1.63 billion.

Encore, formerly Capital Bank, has steadily grown since it relaunched in 2019 under Chairman and CEO Chris Roberts. Last year, it opened three branches in Texas and one in Springfield, Missouri. In February, it opened in Fort Worth, Texas, and it’s also working on locations in Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. It has seven offices in Arkansas.

Roberts said that, through last year, Encore has “essentially doubled the size of the bank for three consecutive years.” He attributes the growth to a strategy that seeks to have 50 or more local shareholders in each market.

So far, that strategy has added about $200 million in capital and 1,600 shareholders across Encore’s 16 markets. Roberts said those shareholders include business owners, real estate investors and high net worth families who became a de facto marketing arm for the bank, providing high-quality referrals.

With new markets coming online this year, Roberts expects another year of strong asset growth. He also expects another capital raise sometime this year.

Another bank with significant growth was Arkansas’ 39th-largest bank, Armor Bank of Forrest City, which grew assets by 68% to $349.08 million.

Armor President and CEO Chad May attributed two-thirds of last year’s record asset growth to organic growth at branches in five counties, including in Little Rock and Jonesboro. The rest came from Armor’s $3.5 million acquisition of a branch in Marianna (Lee County) from Farmers & Merchants Bank of Stuttgart.

“We’ve been successful in substantiating our brand and in our core markets, like Forrest City and Marianna, but had significant organic growth in the Little Rock and Jonesboro markets, and expect the same from Hot Springs,” May said, citing the company’s newest full-service branch, which opened March 16.

Armor expects to open its first northwest Arkansas branch in 2023.

“We have acquired land in Rogers, Arkansas, and subject to regulatory approval, we intend to start construction in the third quarter of this year, and intend to have a full-service banking operation in Rogers in the second quarter of ’23,” he said.

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