Simmons to merge subsidiary banks

Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. announced in a Wednesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it intends to consolidate its seven subsidiary banks into a single banking organization.

Simmons First Bank of Northeast Arkansas, Simmons First Bank of Searcy, Simmons First Bank of Hot Springs, Simmons First Bank of Russellville, Simmons First Bank of South Arkansas and Simmons First Bank of El Dorado will be merged into Simmons First National Bank, headquartered in Pine Bluff.

The consolidation will occur in two phases. The banks located in Jonesboro, Searcy and Hot Springs will be consolidated into Simmons First National Bank in May 2014, with the remaining banks being consolidated into Simmons First National Bank in August 2014.

“The elimination of the separate bank charters will increase the company’s efficiency and assist the company in more effectively meeting the increased regulatory burden currently facing banking institutions,” Simmons Chairman and CEO George A. Makris Jr. said in the SEC filing. “There are many operational functions that we currently perform separately for each of our seven banks, after the consolidation these tasks will only need to be performed once.”

Makris said in the filing that he expects the consolidation to be beneficial for Simmons’ customers.

“We expect our customers to experience a positive impact from this change,” Makris said. “All of our banking and financial services will continue to be available in the same locations as before the consolidation. Our local management and Community Boards of Directors are committed to maintaining our nearby and neighborly service and this change will allow them more opportunity to meet the needs of our customers and the communities we serve.”

Simmons stock opened at $36.99 and closed at $36.62 per share Wednesday on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. At the close of business Friday, the stock was trading at $37.30 per share.