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Texas factory activity rises, Dallas Fed says Texas manufacturing continues to expand, with demand rising at a slightly stronger pace in January than in December, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Texas factory activity increased for the ninth month in a row in January, according to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey released on Jan. 27. The production index, a key measure of manufacturing conditions, rose from 6 in December to 7.1 in January. Other measures of manufacturing activity also edged up. Demand for new orders jumped from 1.3 in December to 14.4 in January, reaching a seven-month high. The shipments index also rebounded strongly, surging from near zero to 9.2. Growth in capacity utilization held steady, with the index remaining at 8.2. Labor market indicators reflected increased hiring and longer workweeks. The January employment index rose for the second month, to 8.6, while the hours worked edged to 3.4 after dipping to -1.1 in December. Expectations regarding future business conditions remained optimistic in January; however, some manufacturers remain worried about health care and the minimum wage. The Dallas Fed conducts the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey monthly. Data were collected Jan. 14-22.
Ciera Bank unveils new look The former West Side Bank & Trust Co., owned and operated by First Graham Bancorp Inc., will install on Feb. 3-4 new outdoor signage reflecting its name change to Ciera Bank. The bank also will host a ribbon cutting during February. West Side Bank & Trust has been operating as Ciera Bank since Dec. 9. First Graham Bancorp, which also owns and operates 123-year-old First National Bank in Graham and First Security Bank in Flower Mound, merged the three banks into one and converted it to a Texas Department of Banking charter. According to Gary Johnson, Fort Worth regional president of Ciera Bank, the merger will enable the bank to streamline administration and business efficiencies and meet customers’ growing needs with larger lending limits. “The merger should increase synergy, uniting our branches as one cohesive, effective team,” Johnson said. Ciera Bank has eight branch locations across North Texas. As of Sept. 30, 2013, Ciera Bank had total assets of $258,484,000, total liabilities of $230,122,000 and 57 employees.
Lone Star Ag Credit and Texas Land Bank merge Fort Worth-based Lone Star Ag Credit and Texas Land Bank, formerly of Waco, officially merged on Jan. 1. Stockholders of both rural financing institutions approved the merger in late 2013. “Lone Star Ag Credit remains committed to the cooperative principles on which Texas Land Bank and Lone Star Ag Credit were founded in 1917,” said Troy Bussmeir, chief executive officer of the newly merged cooperative. “With that commitment intact, the new Lone Star Ag Credit is well-positioned to grow and adapt as we move forward to the future.” As a result of the merger, Lone Star Ag Credit is now one of the largest Agricultural Credit Associations in Texas, with $1.3 billion in total assets and $308 million in capital. Lone Star Ag Credit is part of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of rural lending cooperatives. The association provides financing for agricultural and recreational real estate, rural homes, agribusiness, operating lines of credit, equipment and livestock. The new association is headquartered in Fort Worth and serves 48 counties, stretching from west of Abilene and Sweetwater east to the Louisiana border, and from central Texas to the Oklahoma border. Lone Star is also a customer-owned cooperative and has paid out more than $40 million in patronage dividends to its stockholders over the past 10 years, according to the company’s website.
United Central Bank to merge United Central Bank’s parent, Central Bancorp Inc., which has received money through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, will merge into Los Angeles-based Hanmi Bank in the second half of 2014. Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Garland, UCB is the 30th largest bank in Texas, with 346 employees and 25 retail branches in Texas, California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. The full-service bank operates a branch in Arlington at 1107 E. Pioneer Parkway. As of Sept. 30, 2013, UCB had $1.58 billion in assets with $213.23 million in equity and deposits of $1.38 billion. Hanmi Bank, a 31-year-old Asian-American community bank, is owned by publicly traded Hanmi Financial Corp. The company earned $29.9 million, or 94 cents per share, for the first nine months of 2013. When the merger is complete, the resulting institution will have assets of $4.3 billion. Hanmi Bank will combine UCB’s existing branches with 27 additional California branches as well as a loan production office (LPO) in Seattle. “Hanmi Bank has an established LPO in Dallas and already understands the business environment, economic factors and community opportunities in this area,” said UCB President and CEO Joseph C. Bonner. “The combined bank will build on our experience in other UCB markets as well.” For information, visit www.ucbtx.com
Frontier Capital fuels FW firm Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused on technology-enabled business services, has led a $16 million Series B Financing of Simpli.fi, a privately-held advertising technology company based in Fort Worth. The company, which simplifies digital advertising through the use of unstructured data, will use the capital to expand its sales and marketing efforts and to further the development of its advertising technology platform. Company executives expect the majority of its employee growth to be in the company’s Fort Worth headquarters. Simpli.fi was co-founded in 2010 by Frost Prioleau, CEO, and Armin Roehrl, chief designer. Michael Ramich, partner at Frontier Capital, has joined the Simpli.fi board of directors.
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