LITTLE ROCK — Conway-based Home BancShares announced Tuesday it has signed an agreement to acquire Jonesboro-based Liberty Bancshares in a deal that will create the second-largest bank holding company headquartered in Arkansas.
Home BancShares, the parent company of Centennial Bank, is to acquire Liberty Bancshares, parent company of Liberty Bank of Arkansas, for $280 million — $250 million in common stock to Liberty shareholders and $30 million in cash, officials for the companies said.
Among Arkansas-based holding companies, Home BancShares will be the second only to the Walton family-owned Arvest Bank. It will have $7.1 billion in assets, $5.6 billion in deposits, $4.5 billion in loans, 151 branches, 186 ATMs and 1,500 employees across Arkansas, Florida and southern Alabama. Ninety-two of the branches will be in Arkansas alone.
The acquisition is expected to close late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter of 2013 and is subject to the approval of shareholders of both companies. Home BancShares expects to repurchase all of Liberty’s Small Business Lending Fund preferred stock held by the U.S. Treasury shortly after the closing.
Gov. Mike Beebe joined HomeBancShares Chairman John Allison and Liberty Bancshares Chairman Wallace Fowler in a news conference Tuesday announcing the merger at the headquarters of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. Beebe called both Allison and Fowler good friends and praised the companies for weathering the recent banking crisis.
"Arkansas banks never struggled. Oh, we had a few hiccups, but compared to what happened nationally, our community banks in Arkansas are solid, they’re safe, they’re well run," the governor said. "Through it all, both of these banking organizations have managed to continue to provide services to the business community and to the individuals involved in a manner of first-class operation."
Allison said that "this is a day of history that’s being made in Arkansas" and called it the most significant business transaction of his business career.
"This is a true fit. It’s a perfect fit," Fowler said.
Allison and Fowler unveiled a map showing the companies’ locations and pointed out that only two cities, Morrilton and Searcy, contain branches of both banks.