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Timeline: From First American to One Bank

5 min read

Aug. 30, 1957: American National Bank opens for business at 124 W. Second St. in downtown North Little Rock with $612,000 in capital and nine employees.

June 9, 1960: Arkansas Federal Savings & Loan Association opens for business at 2525 Main St. in North Little Rock, backed by strong common ownership with American National.

Nov. 1, 1965: American National Bank is renamed First American National Bank. The company’s golden eagle symbol is changed to a tomahawk-wielding Indian designed by editorial cartoonist George Fisher.

Sept. 9, 1967: The bank opens its new 38,000-SF headquarters at 120 Main St. in downtown North Little Rock. The staff has grown to 67 with total assets of $26 million, making it the largest Pulaski County bank north of the Arkansas River.

March 12, 1973: Grand National Bank of Hot Springs, chartered by strong common ownership in First American and Arkansas Federal S&L, opens for business.

Aug. 1, 1983: The charter for Arkansas Federal Savings & Loan is converted to a national bank and renamed First American National Bank of Little Rock. The move is made to bypass state banking laws that limit branching and leads to a change in bank branching law for Pulaski County in 1987.

The three Little Rock branches become the foundation of the new bank, headquartered at the 400 Louisiana St. location. The former S&L headquarters in North Little Rock is converted to a branch of First American Bank of North Little Rock.

Sept. 30, 1983: The Arkansas Bank Holding Company Act goes into effect, allowing First American Bancshares Inc. to become the parent company of First American Bank of North Little Rock, First American Bank of Little Rock and Grand National Bank of Hot Springs.

March 19, 1984: Grand National Bank is renamed First American Bank of Hot Springs.

Feb. 21, 1986: Frank Lyon Co., which controls North Little Rock’s Twin City Bank, has a $24.8 million option to buy 73.5 percent of the outstanding shares of First American Bancshares Inc. The announcement notes that the option expires on March 31. Lex Golden, former CEO of Arkansas Federal S&L, is president and CEO of First American Bancshares.

May 12, 1986: Hunt & Howell Bancshares Inc., led by trucking magnate J.B. Hunt and northwest Arkansas banker M. David Howell Jr., strikes a deal to acquire First American Bancshares for more than $30 million.

The deal is financed with a $41 million loan that included refinancing $6 million of First American debt and providing $5 million in new capital.

June 27, 1987: A press conference is held on a riverboat on the Arkansas River to announce the three First American banks will be renamed One National Bank, and Hunt & Howell Bancshares will be renamed One National Bancshares.

The original idea of renaming the Little Rock and North Little Rock banks First National is abandoned after a legal fight with William H. Bowen, CEO of Little Rock’s First Commercial Bank. Bowen and officials at First National Bank of Jacksonville claim the First National name is deceptive and causes confusion in the market. First Commercial Bank abandoned the rights to the First National name after the 1983 merger of Commercial National and First National.

Hunt & Howell Bancshares also own First National Bank of Fayetteville, which was bought from Little Rock’s Worthen Banking Corp. for $22 million in 1985.

May 23, 1988: One National Bank opens its 300 W. Capitol Ave. office in downtown Little Rock after a $6 million renovation.

April 26, 1989: David Howell resigns as CEO of One National Bancshares and One National Bank in North Little Rock. At one time, Howell held a 10.6 percent stake in One National Bancshares. He is replaced by Executive Vice President Duncan Miller, who would resign in February 1990.

March 22, 1990: Bill Scholl, president of One National Bank, succeeds Miller as CEO of the bank.

Summer 1991: The Hot Springs bank is sold for $5.2 million to Central Arkansas Bancshares Inc., led by Ross Whipple. Hunt strikes a $32 million deal to sell First National Bank of Fayetteville back to Worthen Banking Corp. for a combination of cash and stock.

One National’s eight-branch network in North Little Rock also is sold for $5.3 million to Worthen. Scholl moves to Worthen as an executive vice president in connection with the deal. Don Park follows Scholl as interim CEO of One National.

The original First American charter is moved to Little Rock. Four Little Rock branches — at 7612 Cantrell Road, 11101 N. Rodney Parham Road, 4520 W. Markham St. and 5601 Kavanaugh Blvd. — are purchased for $1 million from the Resolution Trust Corp. The branches had been part of the defunct Little Rock thrift, Savers Federal Savings & Loan Association.

August 1992: Layton “Scooter” Stuart becomes president and chief executive officer of One National Bank and enters the ownership picture with a 50 percent stake and the other half owned by the Hunt family. The bank has a staff of 91 and total assets of $93.9 million.

By 1995, Stuart adds the title of chairman, succeeding Bryan Hunt, and the bank has total assets of $109.2 million. Stuart’s ownership in One Bank’s holding company, which eventually expands to 99.9 percent, is financed by the Hunt family.

March 9, 1997: One National Bank appoints Mike Heald as executive vice president of operations and Gary Rickenbach as executive vice president of credit administration.

Dec. 18, 1998: The name is changed to One Bank & Trust, and the lender is rechartered as a state bank. The bank has total assets of $157.9 million.

May 1, 2001: One Bank is rechartered back to a federal bank, which places it under the regulatory purview of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The bank has total assets of $185.5 million at year’s end.

Jan. 20, 2011: One Bank enters a formal agreement with the OCC because its classified loan levels are too high. The bank’s asset total has grown to $442 million.

August 2011: Stuart fires Heald as One Bank’s EVP and chief operating officer.

May 21, 2012: The OCC renews its supervisory agreement and directs the bank to revise its strategic plan, improve capital levels, fix management deficiencies and achieve certain capital ratios.

Sept. 28, 2012: The bank board fires Stuart as chairman, president and CEO under the orders of the OCC. Federal regulators deem One Bank “to be engaging in unsafe or unsound practices” and reclassify it as “undercapitalized.”

Stuart’s forced exodus is followed by others: Thomas Whitehead, who worked at One Bank for more than a decade and held the CFO post for about five years; and Rickenbach, EVP and chief loan officer.

Today: Federal agencies and One Bank officials battle Stuart’s estate over assets, including the proceeds of a $20 million life insurance policy after his death on March 26. The Hunt family, which holds a secured claim on One Bank’s stock, is positioned to possibly re-enter the ownership picture.

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