Buying Sprees of Arkansas Banks Tops List of Top 10 Arkansas Business Stories of 2015

The acquisition trail was well traveled by Arkansas lenders in 2015, with the most prominent destinations for new deals lying in Georgia, Florida and Missouri.

Little Rock’s Bank of the Ozarks Inc. led the procession with a string of out-of-state stock-swap transactions valued at almost $1.5 billion.

The biggest of the bunch was its record-setting deal to buy the $4.4 billion-asset Community & Southern Bank of Atlanta in a buy valued at nearly $800 million.

Announced Oct. 19, the deal represents the single largest acquisition by an Arkansas bank in terms of both purchase price and assets acquired — ever.

Bank of the Ozarks followed that up with a Nov. 9 announcement of its pending $402.5 million stock swap deal for $1.7 billion-asset C1 Bank of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The addition of Community & Southern and C1 will push the $9.3 billion-asset Bank of the Ozarks beyond the $15 billion mark and establish it firmly as the second-largest lender based in Arkansas.

For now, Arvest Bank of Fayetteville remains the largest financial institution in Arkansas with total assets of $15.6 billion.

Bank of the Ozarks completed two other deals in 2015 to grow its franchise: $1.4 billion-asset Intervest National Bank of New York, a $228.5 million deal that closed on Feb. 11; and $345 million-asset Bank of the Carolinas of Mocksville, North Carolina, a $64.7 million deal that closed on Aug. 6.

Little Rock’s Bear State Financial announced and closed its first significant out-of-state deal, which expanded its holdings into southwest Missouri.

The $70 million purchase of $454.9 million-asset Metropolitan National Bank of Springfield also ushered in a new CEO: Mark McFatridge, former CEO of Metropolitan. The acquisition moved total assets at Bear State to nearly $2 billion.

Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff completed tandem out-of-state, stock-swap purchasesduring the first quarter that increased its asset total to more than $7.6 billion, a whopping 65 percent jump.

In addition to the acquisitions of First State Bank of Union City, Tennessee, and Liberty Bank of Springfield, Missouri, Simmons closed on a $20.7 million purchase announced in April.

Closed on Oct. 30, the Ozark Trust & Investment Corp. of Springfield, Missouri, deal pushed assets under management at Simmons to $4.5 billion. Its Trust Co. of the Ozarks subsidiary had $1.1 billion in assets under management with more than 1,300 accounts and clients.

Home BancShares Inc. of Conway announced and completed two deals that enlarged its Florida holdings. The $101.6 million deal for Bay Cities Bank of Tampa brought $530 million in assets, which pushed Home’s total to $9 billion.

Centennial Bank also bought the Florida Panhandle deposits of Doral Bank of San Juan, which was shut down by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The deal represented deposits of about $466 million.

Four Arkansas lenders in the northwest quadrant of the state attracted suitors whose overtures culminated in definitive merger agreements:

  • The $195 million-asset Benefit Bank of Fort Smith became part of Armstrong Bank of Muskogee, Oklahoma, after a $32 million sale to Armstrong’s parent company, Ironhorse Financial Group Inc.
  • The $358 million-asset Bank of Fayetteville sold for $42.3 million to Farmers & Merchants Bankshares Inc. of Stuttgart.
  • The $133 million-asset Parkway Bank of Rogers was poised to sell for $21.8 million to Citizens Bancshares of Batesville Inc.
  • The $112 million-asset Twin Lakes Community Bank of Flippin (Marion County) was positioned to sell in a $15.2 million deal to First National Bancorp Inc. of Green Forrest (Carroll County), parent of Anstaff Bank.

Article By: Arkansas Business

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