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Sigma Holdings Inc. Becomes Holding Company for Bank of Rison

3 min read

It was two months ago — Sept. 30, to be exact — when a new entity called Sigma Holdings Inc. officially became a bank-holding company by finalizing its purchase of the Bank of Rison.

The Bank of Rison has the distinction of being the smallest bank chartered in Arkansas whether ranked by assets ($23.9 million) or deposits ($19.8 million).

Sigma Holdings was formed by veteran Little Rock banker Troy Duke and Garland County businessman Lewis Ray “LR” Gardner specifically to buy the bank, which had been left at the altar last year by Fordyce Bank & Trust.

FB&T had planned to pay book value, originally $5.4 million, for the one-office bank in Cleveland County. But the value fell to about $4.2 million when the Bank of Rison posted a loss of nearly $1.4 million in the second quarter of 2012 after plumping up its loan loss reserves. And then the deal fell apart entirely when FB&T wanted to modify its offer to something less than book.

So what did Sigma Holdings pay?

Its filing with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis says the cash consideration would be $3.87 million, adjusted by any net income or loss between Feb. 28 and the date of closing, less any adviser fees and any dividends paid in 2013. As it happens, the net loss of $32,000 that the bank posted in the third quarter zeroed out the $32,000 net income posted in the first half of the year, and no dividends have been paid.

The bank’s equity capital was $4.11 million as of Sept. 30.

The major shareholders were:

  • James Hopson, the bank president (and, according to the Fed application, “primary loan producer”) who died in 2011, 22.8 percent;
  • LBM 99 Trust of Fayetteville, Lee and Brian Moore trustees, 21.25 percent;
  • Ira Moore III of Little Rock, 4.25 percent; Judy Caruthers of Little Rock, 3.45 percent; and Hershel R. Garner Trust of Rison and Irene H. Searcy Revocable Trust of Sun City, Ariz., 3 percent each.

The new ownership consists of:

  • LR Gardner, 36 percent;
  • His father, Lewis M. Gardner of Hot Springs, 32 percent;
  • Duke, 20 percent;
  • Michael W. Wallace of Little Rock, an experienced banker and former medical sales rep who is now vice president and investment officer at Bank of Rison, 8 percent; and
  • Dr. Lane England of Little Rock, 4 percent.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Troy Duke, most recently senior vice president of lending for Eagle Bank & Trust of Little Rock, is now CEO of the Bank of Rison, which has eight other employees.

“I’m working harder than I ever have and enjoying it more than I ever have,” he said.

The Bank of Rison, you see, has a bit of catching up to do. In January, its customers will, for the first time, enjoy the benefits of online banking.

And, believe it or not, debit cards.

“There are only two sit-down restaurants in Rison, and they don’t take debit cards,” Duke said.

Once those things are in place, Duke — who is being paid $130,000 a year — said he would recommend that the board of directors start looking for ways to stop being the smallest bank in the state.

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