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Update: Waldrip Family to Purchase Forrest City Bank

2 min read

One of the smallest banks in Arkansas is being sold to a newly formed holding company.

Big Creek Bancshares, formed in September by Mark Waldrip of Moro (Lee County) and his son, Nathan Waldrip of Jonesboro, has struck a deal to buy Forrest City Bank from Forrest City Financial Corp.

Forrest City Bank is a 65-year-old national bank with assets of $48 million as of June 30. It employs 13 people in two branches in Forrest City, and Dwight Rutland will continue as its president under the ownership.

The sale is expected to close near the end of the year, and the name will be changed in the first quarter of 2017, according to the release, but the new name was not announced.

“Customers of Forrest City Bank should continue to conduct business as usual and can expect no changes will be made to their banking accounts, checks, debit cards, and online banking services until after the transaction closes,” the release said.

The terms of the sale were not included in the joint announcement by the sellers and buyers, and Mark Waldrip declined to disclose it. The bank had $4.7 million in equity capital as of June 30. It has not reported an annual profit since 2008; since then, it has reported combined losses of $1.23 million.

“Our family has had an interest in banking for quite a few years and we have been looking for a bank that we felt would be a good fit and align with our strategic plans for growth in East Arkansas,” Mark Waldrip, chairman of Big Creek Bancshares, said in the news release.

Those growth plans, he told Arkansas Business, begin with making the renamed Forrest City Bank the best that it can be and getting it to an asset size at which it can remain viable.

Mark Waldrip, a member of the University of Arkansas board of trustees, is owner and manager of Waldrip Lands LLC, and also has an ownership interest in Armor Seed LLC, East Arkansas Seeds Inc. and East Arkansas Equipment Co. Inc. 

Nathan Waldrip is currently the chief financial officer of Armor Seed LLC. His wife Maegan is also a shareholder, Mark Waldrip said, as are Nathan’s sisters and their husbands: Allison and Aaron Bragg, Katie and Ethan Branscum, and Lauren and Wes Ward. (Wes Ward is the state secretary of agriculture.)

Stephen Edwards, owner of Edwards Food Giant grocery stores, and his wife, Laura, will be the only non-family investors, Mark Waldrip said.

Of 103 banks chartered in Arkansas, only six are smaller in assets than Forrest City Bank.

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