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Simmons First to buy Liberty Bank in all-stock deal

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published May 28, 2014 at 8:34 a.m.

Simmons First National Corp. said Wednesday that it is buying Springfield, Mo.-based Liberty Bancshares in an all-stock transaction valued at more than $200 million.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year pending approval by Liberty and Simmons shareholders. The all-stock deal is worth an estimated $206.9 million, though Simmons said that total is subject to "potential adjustments."

George Makris Jr., chairman and CEO of Pine Bluff-based Simmons, said the acquisition of Liberty and its "expertise in Small Business lending" will "enhance our commercial offerings."

"We are proud to welcome the associates of Liberty Bank to the Simmons Family," he said in a news release. "Together, we expect to continue the exceptional growth and quality customer service for which Liberty Bank is known."

Liberty Chairman and CEO Gary Metzger called the "strategic merger" a "win, win, win situation" for the bank customers, employees and shareholders.

Through the end of March, Liberty had assets totaling $1.1 billion, loans of $811 million and deposits of $885 million. Simmons has pro forma assets totaling $7.8 billion with operations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee.

Simmons earlier this month reached a deal to buy Community First Bancshares of Union City, Tenn., for $243 million in stock and in March agreed to buy Arkansas-based Delta Trust & Bank for $66 million.

A conference call on the acquisition is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday. It can be accessed by calling (866) 298-7926 and using ID 52072651. It will be broadcast live and available in a recorded version later on the Simmons website.

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