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Arvest Bank enters deal to buy Bear State for $391M

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Last edited 11:23 a.m., Aug. 22, 2017

Two Arkansas banking companies with strong Springfield ties are combining.

Arvest Bank entered a definitive agreement to buy Bear State Financial Inc. (Nasdaq: BSF) in an all-cash deal valued at $391 million, according to a news release.

Arvest Springfield President and CEO Brad Crain said his region will gain Bear State’s three Springfield branches as well as one each in Nixa, Branson West, Marshfield, Hollister and Kimberling City. Bear State’s roughly 70 local employees will stay on with Arvest, he said, and its local $317 million in deposits and $330 million in loans will be absorbed by the local Arvest regional operation. Declining to disclose Arvest Springfield’s holdings, Crain said the acquisition would allow expansion into the previously untapped markets of Kimberling City and Marshfield.

“We will evaluate branches in the future to determine that we don’t have any redundancies. We don’t anticipate that,” Crain said this morning. “This acquisition is very exciting for us in this area as it allows us to significantly expand our community presence here while offering even greater convenience and resources to customers of both banks.

“The Springfield area is a priority market for Arvest from a growth perspective. This gives us an opportunity to have a more significant impact.”

In the deal expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year or first quarter of 2018, Arvest will add Bear State’s 42 branches and three technology centers to its portfolio of over 250 branches. Arvest, which had $17.3 billion in assets and $15 billion in deposits as of June 30, also will pick up Bear State’s $2.2 billion in assets and $1.7 billion in deposits, according to the release.

Arvest will stay a private firm through the deal, Crain said.

Little Rock-based Bear State entered the Missouri market in 2015 when it acquired Springfield-based Metropolitan National Bank for $70 million in cash and stock. Earlier this year, the company laid off roughly a dozen employees in the Springfield area and Mark McFatridge — who had led Metropolitan National prior to the acquisition — cited personal reasons for resigning from his role as CEO of Bear State.

Bear State posted second-quarter net income of $6.7 million, a 47 percent improvement from $4.5 million a year earlier, according to a separate release.

BSF shares increased by 10 percent this morning on the news of the acquisition. The company’s shares were trading at $10.19 as of 10 a.m., compared with a 52-week range of $8.65 to $10.95.

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