There was a variety of banking news reported on Friday afternoon as Arkansas financial concerns reported losses, dividends, new acquisitions and the closing of a recapitalization plan.
Bank of Ozarks, headquartered in Little Rock, continued its bank buying efforts. The financial firm entered into agreements with the FDIC to purchase two unrelated Georgia banks, The Park Avenue Bank of Valdosta, Georgia and First Choice Community Bank of Dallas, Georgia.
As a result of the agreements, Bank of the Ozarks adds 18 Georgia offices and one Florida office giving the bank a total of 30 Georgia offices and four Florida offices. The two institutions had no branches in overlapping markets and no branches overlapping existing Bank of the Ozarks markets, according to the bank.
Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank remained in troubled waters posting a $4 million first quarter loss, much steeper than a $2.6 million net loss reported one year ago.
“Our loss in the first quarter included a one-time earnings charge for deferred taxes of $1.6 million,” said Metropolitan CEO Lunsford Bridges.
“We are pleased with the progress we have achieved over the past 18 months in effectively managing our non-performing assets. As a result, we believe with an improving real estate market and economy that Metropolitan can look forward to stable performance for the rest of 2011, ” Bridges added.
Metropolitan National Bank has struggled with its capital ratios and posted negative earnings for several quarters during the last two years.
Publicly-traded Home BancShares, parent company of Centennial Bank, has been on an acquisition spree in Florida since early 2010. On Friday, the company declared a regular $0.054 per share quarterly cash dividend payable June 1, 2011, to shareholders of record May 11, 2011. The dividend is the maximum allowed for the financial institution pursuant to an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Treasury related to Home Bancshares’ borrowing of TARP funds in 2009.
First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas also reported that its board of directors has approved a 1-for5 reverse stock split of all outstanding shares of the company’s common stock. It also issued more than 20% of the savings and loans’ post-reverse split outstanding common stock in accordance with an agreement between First Federal and Bear State Financial Holdings, LLC.
Bear State is a private equity investment group led by former Alltel executives Joe Ford, Scott Ford and Rick Massey. In January, the group committed to invest up to $55 million in First Federal. First Federal has been struggling for more than two years with troubled loans in its northwest Arkansas portfolio.
First Federal CEO Larry Brandt said, “We appreciate the confidence and strong support of our many stockholders on all of the proposals associated with our recapitalization plan. With these approvals in place, we are now positioned to implement the remaining steps in our recapitalization plan.”
First Federal anticipates the initial closing of the transactions related to its recapitalization by May 2011.