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Banking Southwest Bank parent acquired by fast-growing Arkansas bank

Southwest Bank parent acquired by fast-growing Arkansas bank

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Fort Worth-based First Texas BHC Inc., parent of Southwest Bank, is being acquired by a fast-growing Arkansas-based regional bank in a cash and stock deal valued at $462 million, the companies announced Monday.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas-based Simmons First National Corp., which trades on the NASDAQ under the SFNC symbol, announced the agreement Monday following the market’s close. Southwest Bank is the largest locally-owned bank in Tarrant County.

Simmons officials said they plan to retain the Southwest Bank name and grow their presence in the Fort Worth market.

“Late last year, Simmons announced its introduction into the Texas markets with our proposed acquisition of Bank SNB,” said George A. Makris Jr., Simmons’ chairman and CEO in a news release. “We now have the opportunity to substantially grow our presence in the Fort Worth metropolitan area by joining with one of the best run, most respected financial organizations in Texas. “

Markis noted that Southwest Chairman and CEO Vernon Bryant and his executive team “are exemplary bankers who understand the industry and get the importance of excellent customer service.”

“Their success, both for their customers and for their organization, makes me confident that we have teamed with another great banking partner,” he said. “The Southwest Bank brand itself is very well known and respected, and represents a legacy of quality banking service. Because of that legacy, we will retain the Southwest Bank brand.”

Southwest Bank, which has 16 branches in North Texas, boosts a veteran area banker in Bryant, who had previously grown TexasBank until it was purchased by Compass Bank in 2006. The bank focuses on personal and business banking, wealth management and mortgage services.

“We at First Texas are excited about the strategic partnership with Simmons,” said Bryant, First Texas’s chairman and CEO in a news release. “Simmons is a top-notch, fast-growing regional bank. With that comes additional products and services, as well as a larger balance sheet that can only result in substantial benefits for our customers. Since First Texas began, our focus has always been on the customer, and I know that as part of the Simmons team we will continue that legacy.”

According to a presentation given to Simmons investors and analysts, Bryant will be the Texas Regional Chairman for Simmons within the announced Southwest Division of Simmons Bank. “He will be primarily responsible for the banking operations in the Fort Worth metropolitan area and a key contributor to expansion strategies in Texas,” according to the presentation materials.

For Simmons the deal is the third in the past 10 weeks. It announced a deal to acquire First South Bank of Jackson, Tennessee that is expected to close this quarter. In December, Simmons announced it would enter the Texas market with the purchase of Bank SNB of Stillwater, Oklahoma for $564.4 million. That deal should close in the third quarter.

First Texas has assets of $2 billion as of Sept. 30, 2016, loans of $1.8 billion and deposits of $1.5 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, First Texas’s shareholders and other equity rights holders will receive, in the aggregate, 6.5 million shares of the Simmons’ common stock and $70 million in cash, all subject to certain conditions and potential adjustments. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017. After closing, Southwest is expected to continue operations as a separate bank subsidiary of Simmons for an interim period until it is merged into Simmons Bank, according to the news release.

Stephens Inc. served as financial advisor to First Texas, and Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford, LLP served as First Texas’s legal advisor. Mercer Capital Management Inc. served as financial advisor to Simmons, and Covington & Burling LLP served as Simmons’ legal advisor.

Simmons is a financial holding company with total assets of approximately $8.4 billion with primary financial operations throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee.


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