In surprise moves, Bentonville-based Arvest Bank and Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. submitted bids to acquire Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank, whose parent company, Rogers Bancshares, Inc., is embroiled in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Arvest’s bid was announced in a legal notice in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for an undisclosed figure, while Simmons First disclosed a $16.9 million bid in a SEC filing.

Metropolitan officials announced in early July that the bank would be acquired by Ford Financial Fund II, a private equity fund led by Dallas investor Gerald J. Ford and his partner, Carl Webb. Ford Financial Fund II said at the time it was aiming to purchase all of Metropolitan National Bank’s stock for $16 million and recapitalize the bank.

On Thursday, however, Simmons First disclosed its bid on the bank, which is nearly $1 million more than Ford Financial proposed. Arvest’s bid, which did not provide a dollar amount for the offer, appeared in the legal notice section of the statewide newspaper.

“Arvest Bank Group, Inc… intends to apply to the Federal Reserve Board for prior approval to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Metropolitan National Bank,” the legal notice stated. “The Federal Reserve System considers a number of factors in deciding whether to approve the application, including the record of performance of banks we own in helping to meet local credit needs.”

“MNB [Metropolitan National Bank] has a rich history of providing exemplary customer service to the communities in which it is located. Simmons First, if it is successful in its attempt to acquire MNB, will combine the operations of MNB with Simmons First National Bank and continue to provide the highest quality customer service throughout the combined service area,” Simmons First officials said in a SEC filing.

The two banks and Ford Financial Fund make for three known qualifying bidders for Metropolitan. The bids were due on Tuesday, Sept. 3. By nature of becoming a qualifying bidder, all of the entities must have exceeded the previously announced $16 million offer from Ford.

Now, a “private” or “closed” auction will take place on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 at an undisclosed location. All three qualifying bidders will be able to participate in the auction with the highest bidder eventually winning Metropolitan’s assets.

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Roby Brock
Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by e-mail at Roby@TalkBusiness.net. Follow him on Twitter: @RobyBrock.