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Southern Bancorp Will Pay $28 Million in Cash for Premier Bank

Southern Bancorp Will Pay $28 Million in Cash for Premier Bank

Arkadelphia’s Southern Bancorp Inc. is paying $28 million cash for FCB Financial Services Inc., the holding company of Jonesboro’s Premier Bank of Arkansas.

The addition of the $227.4 million-asset bank, which operates full-service offices in Craighead and Crittenden counties, will enlarge Southern Bancorp’s footprint to 16 Arkansas counties.

The deal will also provide the gateway to Jonesboro, Marion and West Memphis for the $2 billion-asset Southern Bancorp Bank. The community development lender will step into those markets where Premier holds deposits of:

  • $155.3 million in West Memphis, an 11.82% share that ranks third among eight banks in the $1.3 billion-deposit market.
  • $130.5 million in Marion, a 36.31% share that is tops among five banks in the $359 million-deposit market.
  • $12.8 million in Jonesboro, a 0.36% share that ranks 18th among 20 banks in the $3.5 billion-deposit market.

Founded in October 1998 as First Community Bank of Eastern Arkansas, the Premier name was adopted in April 2019. The bank moved its headquarters from Marion to Jonesboro in November 2020.

The 1998 startup effort was guided by Gates Williams, former president of the $90 million-asset Bank of West Memphis. That lender was one of two local banks purchased by National Commerce Bancorporation of Memphis.

NCB’s acquisition of the $44 million-asset Citizens Bank of Marion also was among a series of sales of locally owned lenders to Memphis banks during 1996-98.

Those transactions included Union Planters Corp. buying the $58.4 million-asset First National Bank in West Memphis. Market flux created by those sales provided the impetus for local investors to start First Community/Premier.

The initial private placement offering raised $3.9 million in startup capital and drew more than 100 investors ranging from the $5,000 minimum to a core group of 13 who ponied up the $150,000 maximum.

Stockholder Paydays

Shareholders in FCB Financial Services will divvy up $28 million from the sale to Southern Bancorp. Five of the larger stockholders will receive a combined $10.9 million:

  • Michael East, Marion, 9.78%, worth $2.7 million;
  • FCB KSOP, the holding company’s qualified retirement plan, a combo employee stock ownership plan and 401(k), 9.7%, worth $2.7 million;
  • David Wallace, Marion 7.78%, worth nearly $2.2 million;
  • Frank Fogleman, Marion 7.13%, worth almost $2 million; and
  • James Ross, Wynne 4.6%, worth about $1.3 million.

In addition to cash from Southern Bancorp, shareholders will receive a big dividend payment that will reduce Premier’s excess capital.