Bear State acquires Missouri bank in $70 million deal

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 395 views 

Bear State Financial Inc. announced Monday that it has agreed to purchase a Missouri bank in an all-stock deal that will add $442 million in assets to the fast-growing Little Rock bank’s portfolio.

Under terms of the agreement, Bear State will acquire 100% of the stock of Metropolitan National Bank, which is owned by Marshfield Investment Co. in Springfield, Mo. Marshfield shareholders will then receive proceeds of approximately $70 million, consisting of some $42 million in Bear State common stock and $28 million in cash.

The merger is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2015, subject to customary regulatory approvals and other conditions, Bear State officials said. The Little Rock bank said it anticipates the deal to be immediately accretive to its earnings and bottom line.

Once the deal closes, Metropolitan National Bank’s CEO Mark McFatridge is expected to join the Bear State management team and board of directors. One other Metropolitan National Bank officer is also expected to join Bear State’s board.

In addition to the Metropolitan Bank acquisition, Bear State’s board of directors doubled its previously-approved stock buyback program, now permitting the repurchase of up to $2 million of its common stock in the open market.

The former First Federal Bancshares of Harrison, which is now headquartered in Little Rock, also said it issued a second quarter earnings guidance of between 8 cents and 10 cents for three month period ending June 30. Bank officials said the second quarter represents the first full quarter of operations following Bear State’s consolidation of First Federal Bank, First National Bank and Heritage Bank under one bank charter, while also integrating all of the bank’s operations to a single technology platform.

A year ago, Bear State completed its merger of First National Security Co. in Hot Springs and Heritage Bank headquartered in Jonesboro. The former Harrison-based financial institution, whose board of directors includes former Alltel Corp. officers Rick Massey and Scott Ford, has improved its balance sheet over the past year and said this summer that it “expects further public announcements regarding its management and key operations as the (bank’s) integration project nears completion.”

Last week, Bear State officials said the Little Rock bank will join the broad-market Russell 3000 Index on June 26, based on a preliminary list of additions posted June 12 on the Russell reconstitution website.

As of March 31, Metropolitan National Bank had approximately $442 million of total assets, $340 million of loans and $375 million of deposits. The combined enterprise would have approximately $2 billion in total assets, 41 branches throughout Arkansas, 2 branches in Southeast Oklahoma and 12 branches in Southwest Missouri for a total of 55 branches. The combined enterprise would also have three loan production offices in Arkansas and one in Missouri.