LITTLE ROCK — Two of Arkansas’ most well-known lending institutions have submitted surprise bids to acquire Little Rock’s Metropolitan National Bank, whose parent company, Rogers Bancshares, Inc., is involved in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Pine Bluff-based Simmons First National Corp. disclosed a $16.9 million bid in a filing with the federal Securities Exchange Commission. Bentonville-based Arvest Bank announced its bid in a legal notice in Arkansas’ statewide newspaper for an undisclosed amount.

The two Arkansas chartered banks join a Dallas investor in pursuing Metropolitan.

Officials of the Little Rock bank announced in July that it would be acquired by Ford Financial Fund II, a private equity fund led by Dallas investor Gerald J. Ford and his partner, Carl Webb. Ford Financial Fund II said at the time it intended to purchase all of Metropolitan National Bank’s stock for $16 million and recapitalize the bank.

However, on Thursday, Simmons First disclosed its bid on the bank, which is nearly $1 million more than Ford Financial proposed. Arvest’s bid, which did not provide a dollar amount for the offer, appeared in the legal notices section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The two banks and Ford Financial Fund are three known qualifying bidders for Metropolitan — bids were due on Tuesday — and as such must have exceeded the previously announced $16 million offer from Ford.

The three entities will be able to participate in a "private" or "closed" auction on Monday, with the highest bidder eventually winning Metropolitan’s assets.


Arkansas News Bureau business columnist Roby Brock contributed to this report.