First Community Bancshares announces intention to purchase Little River Bancshares

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 263 views 

Little River Bancshares Inc., parent company of Little River Bank in Lepanto, will be acquired later this year by First Community Bancshares Inc. of Batesville.

The First Community board of directors has approved the proposed acquisition, and the two companies announced the deal Thursday (Oct. 13) in a news release from First Community Chairman, President and CEO Dale Cole and Little River Chairman Henry “Tri” Watkins.

First Community Bancshares, which has more than 300 employees, is the holding company of First Community Bank. Cole said the deal is expected to be finalized before the end of the year, pending regulatory approval by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FDIC and the Arkansas State Bank Department.

“We recognized the opportunity for expansion into an area of the state that extends our current footprint,” Cole said in the release. “We currently operate three locations in Craighead County and continue to grow within that market. We are so excited to bring our unique style of community banking into adjoining Poinsett County.”

First Community Bank opened in August 1997 in Batesville and had assets of $1.1 billion as of June 30, according to the FDIC. It has Arkansas offices in Batesville (3), Searcy (3), Bald Knob, Bay, Cabot, Cave City, Cherokee Village/Highland, Jonesboro and Mountain Home. FCB also has a mortgage office in Jonesboro.

The bank’s footprint also reaches into the southwest Missouri market with branch locations in Neosho (2), Pineville and Goodman.

Little River Bank was founded in 1919 as the Bank of Keiser, but changed its name after relocating to Lepanto in 1934. The bank has one location at 202 Greenwood Ave. (Main Street) in Lepanto. Lepanto is located in eastern Poinsett County at the intersection of Arkansas State Highways 14/140 and 135. As of June 30, Little River Bank reported assets of $33.3 million, according to the FDIC.

“We are thrilled about the opportunities this forward-thinking organization will bring to Lepanto and the surrounding communities,” Watkins said. “I have no doubt that the Little River employees will embrace the new ownership and have a renewed sense of enthusiasm to be part of such a dynamic organization.”

According to the FDIC’s recent Summary of Deposits report, as of June 30, Little River Bank’s lone office held $28.7 million in deposits. That ranked sixth among the eight banks with at least one location in Poinsett County.

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