Local & Regional News
9:41 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Simmons First Wins Auction For Metropolitan National Bank

Arkansas will lose one of its iconic bank names after a bankruptcy auction concluded on Monday. Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. has won the bidding war for Little Rock-based Metropolitan National Bank, according to Talk Business Arkansas sources and confirmed by Simmons First.

Metropolitan, whose parent company Rogers Bancshares has been embroiled in a bankruptcy proceeding, was the focus of three bidding entities – Simmons First, Bentonville-based Arvest Bank, and Ford Financial Fund II, a venture capital fund backed by Dallas banking billionaire Gerald J. Ford.

Simmons placed the winning bid for Metropolitan, but a dollar figure was not provided. In a public filing last week, Simmons disclosed a qualifying bid of $16.9 million for the bank.

In a statement released publicly, Simmons said it would combine Metropolitan’s operations into its existing footprint.

Simmons confirmed that it was the “Successful Bidder, subject to the approval of the U. S. Bankruptcy Court” at a hearing scheduled for September 12, 2013 in the bankruptcy proceeding of Metropolitan’s parent bank holding company, Rogers Bancshares, Inc.

“A more detailed information release will be made on Thursday, September 12, 2013 after the ruling of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to be followed by an analyst conference call at 4:00 p.m. Central Time on Thursday,” Simmons First said in a press release.

Early estimates show the combined institutions would have roughly $3.062 billion in assets, with combined equity capital of $253.853 million. The tier-one ratio of these combined banks would be roughly 8.29% and meets with federal guidelines. That’s important because as a standalone financial institution, Metropolitan would have needed far more capital equity to shore up its operating ratios.

Metropolitan National has roughly 5.8% of the deposit marketshare in central Arkansas, behind 6.13% garnered by Arvest and Bank of the Ozarks. All of these trail the 10% share attributed to Centennial Bank and 14.2% to Regions Bank and 16.88% to Bank of America.

With Simmons winning the bid, it would grow its marketshare from 1.53% to 7.35%, overtaking Arvest and Bank of Ozarks. Metropolitan and Simmons First have a much smaller percentage of deposit marketshare in northwest Arkansas, where Arvest Bank is dominant with 51% of the deposits in the region.

However, the gain in northwest Arkansas holds potential opportunity in real estate profits for Simmons. Publicly-traded Simmons First National Corp. (NASDAQ: SFNC), the holding company for Simmons First eight banking groups, closed trading on Monday at $25.67 per share.

The company’s stock has traded between $22.36 and $28.45 during the past year. Simmons First’s eight banks conduct financial operations from 91 offices in 54 communities in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. Editor’s note: Kim Souza with The City Wire contributed to this report.