LITTLE ROCK — Simmons First National Corporation’s winning bid for Metropolitan National Bank was $53.6 million, bank officials revealed Thursday.

Simmons First, based in Pine Bluff, announced that a bankruptcy judge approved its stock purchase agreement with Metropolitan’s holding company, Rogers Bancshares Inc. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approval.

"Simmons First has had a long, positive history with the Rogers family and Metropolitan National Bank," Simmons First CEO-elect George A. Makris Jr. said. "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.

In a conference call with analysts Thursday, Makris said he expected "some significant branch consolidations" — potential closure of between 14 and 35 branches in Arkansas — as a result of the deal. Simmons would have to provide a 90-day notice to customers of the affected branches, starting as early as January 2014, so closures may not occur until April.

Also, Simmons said one of its eight bank charters in Arkansas would be eliminated. Corporate officials said its Northwest Arkansas charter would be folded into the Central Arkansas charter.

Simmons out-bid two other banks, Bentonville-based Arvest Bank and Ford Financial Fund II, a venture capital fund backed by Dallas banking billionaire Gerald J. Ford, to acquire Little Rock-based Metropolitan.

The auction was held Monday. Simmons had disclosed last week a qualifying bid of $16.9 million but did not disclose its winning bid amount until a hearing Thursday in federal bankruptcy court.

Simmons First Corp. is a $3.6 billion financial holding company with eight community banks in Pine Bluff, El Dorado, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Lake Village, Rogers, Russellville and Searcy. Those banks currently due business from 91 office — 87 financial centers — in 54 communities in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.

Metropolitan National currently has branches in 14 communities in the state.


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