Court approves Simmons acquisition of Metropolitan

Simmons First National Corp. announced Thursday that Judge James G. Mixon of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Little Rock approved its bid of $53.6 million for Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock, to be paid to MNB parent corporation Rogers Bancshares Inc.

“This is a great thing for our company and for Metropolitan,” Simmons First CEO-elect George A. Makris Jr said. “We are very excited about this. Simmons First has had a long, positive history with the Rogers family [who hold a majority interest in RBI] and with Metropolitan National Bank. We believe the acquisition fits nicely into our footprint and will enable us to better meet our combined customers’ needs in central and northwest Arkansas.”

The terms of the transaction call for Simmons to purchase all issued and outstanding shares of MNB common stock for $53.6 million payable to RBI, with the deal expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2013, subject to customary regulatory approval.

“We have 90 days before our applications are approved by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency,” Makris said.

Makris said the overlap of existing central and northwest Arkansas Simmons First branches with those operated by MNB will provide an opportunity for branch consolidation, with on-the -round changes not expected before the spring of 2014.

“One of the benefits of this transaction is the significant overlap of bank branches,” Makris said. “By law we are required to give branch customers who would be affected by a consolidation 90 days’ notice of the change.”

Makris said informal discussions about a potential merger had taken place between the parties for the past decade.

“We were very familiar with their franchise and they were very familiar with us,” Makris said.”There’s been a great friendship between individuals at Metropolitan and Simmons, including the Rogers family.”

The acquisition of MNB by Simmons will create a banking entity worth $4.4 billion in assets, according to information provided by Simmons.

Simmons provided data that show MNB having assets of $991 million; loans of $484 million; deposits of $862 million; $370 million in trust assets under management; and equity of $62 million.

Bankruptcy court

Makris said the Thursday court hearing before Mixon, of the U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, was held to authenticate and approve the private bank auction that took place Monday at the Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock.

“The judge set out the procedures and wanted to make sure that they were followed and that everybody who could be affected by the outcome were comfortable with it,” Makris said. “I think it went off without a hitch.”

In addition to Simmons, bids for MNB were submitted by Arvest Bank of Fayetteville and the Ford Financial Fund II of Dallas.