Simmons First completes acquisitions of Oklahoma, Texas banks, assets now top $14 billion

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 494 views 

Simmons First National Corp. has completed the acquisitions of two similarly named community banks in Oklahoma and Texas that will push the Pine Bluff banking group’s total deposits and assets well above the $10 billion, a key milestone in the Arkansas bank’s zenith growth.

Bank officials made the announcement Friday (Oct. 20).

With the completion of the previously announced acquisitions of Stillwater, Okla.-based Southwest Bancorp Inc. and parent company Bank SNB, and First Texas BHC Inc., or Southwest Bank for Fort Worth, Simmons has moved well beyond its $10 billion asset goal, an industry benchmark established by the Dodd-Frank Act as the regulatory baseline between super-community banks and larger regional banking groups.

The Arkansas regional bank first announced a definitive agreement to acquire Oklahoma’s Southwest Bancorp Inc. in December 2016, followed a month later by a slightly smaller $462 million deal to purchase First Texas in January 2017.  Shareholders of Simmons, Southwest Bancorp and First Texas each approved the transactions earlier this month.

“Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Simmons,” George Makris, Jr., Simmons’ Chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “With the closing of these transactions, Simmons has now expanded its reach into three new banking markets – Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado – and strengthened its franchise in Kansas. We are pleased to welcome all of the Bank SNB and Southwest Bank customers and associates to the Simmons family. We have always believed that our unwavering commitment to excellent customer service is what sets us apart, and I have no doubt that our new partners share that same conviction.”

Simmons officials said the Arkansas bank will have more than $14 billion in assets, nearly $10.4 billion in loans, and $11.2 billion in deposits across a seven-state footprint that includes Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

Southwest Bancorp (Bank SNB) and Southwest Bank will continue operations as separate bank subsidiaries of Simmons for an interim period until they are merged into Simmons Bank. Simmons said it plans on maintaining both Southwest brands in their respective markets in Oklahoma and Texas.

“These are both long-awaited transactions, and we could not be happier about the opportunities both banks bring with them,” said Simmons First President Marty Casteel. “Both Bank SNB and Southwest Bank customers can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to ensure a seamless transition. In the meantime, customers should continue their banking practices as usual.”

According to earlier details of the two deals, Marke Funke, president and CEO of Southwest Bancorp in Oklahoma, is expected to continue as the new head of the Southwest Division of Simmons Bank, where he will oversee the Pine Bluff’s banking group’s operations in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Kansas. It is not known if Vernon Bryant, a longtime Texas banker and First Texas chairman and CEO, will stay with Simmons once the deal is completed.

In an unusual move, Simmons plans to release its third quarter 2017 earnings at 5 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 22), well ahead of Monday’s opening bell. In Friday’s midday session, Simmons shares (NASDAQ: SFNC) were up 30 cents at $59.85.