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Fidelity Bancshares to merge with Commerce

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Fidelity Bancshares Inc., the holding company that owns Fidelity State Bank of Garden City, Kan., and Heritage Bank of Olathe in Olathe, Kan., has signed a merger agreement with Commerce Bancshares Inc. according to a July 2 press release from Commerce.

As the third largest bank in Kansas, Commerce Bancshares Inc. was established in 1993 and currently has 280 banking locations throughout the Midwest, including Hays, Wichita, Hutchinson, Columbus, Independence, Pittsburg, Manhattan and Lawrence, Kan., the release stated.

Heritage Bank has $50 million in assets while Fidelity State Bank's assets total $180 million.

"We are pleased to announce this news of joining Commerce, which has a strong record of offering high-quality banking services," said Taunce Mathison, Fidelity State Bank president, in the release. "It has been our desire to grow to meet the expanding needs of our customers, and we wanted to be sure to preserve our heritage. We have been proud to serve Garden City and southwest Kansas since 1924."

Heritage Bank of Olathe recently opened a new branch in Overland Park, Kan., with previously existing bank locations in Overland Park and Olathe.

Fidelity State Bank is ranked the No. 1 bank in Finney County for total deposits out of 10 commercial banks, thrifts and credit unions, the release stated. It has one banking location in Kearney County and five in Garden City, Kan.

"Fidelity State Bank and Commerce have known each other for a long time," Mathison said in the release, "and we both share a strong commitment to serving the agribusiness community. As Garden City and our surrounding counties have experienced significant growth during the past decade, a trend we expect to continue, Fidelity State Bank has been proud to help support that growth.

"We believe this merger will allow us to offer the sophisticated services and financial resources of a large bank while maintaining the quality and responsive service our customers have always received from Fidelity State Bank."

The addition of the Heritage Bank locations will bring the number of Commerce banking locations in Olathe to four. The all-stock merger transaction is expected to be completed, pending shareholder and regulatory approval, within the first quarter of 1998, the release stated.

"We are very pleased with this affiliation with Fidelity State Bank and Heritage Bank. Our organizations share a tradition and culture of providing customers and communities with the best financial services," said Jonathan Kemper, Commerce Bancshares vice chairman, in the release.

Kemper added, "We have a long-standing correspondent bank relationship with Fidelity Bank, so we are familiar with the quality bankers in place. And, Commerce Bank has always considered the agribusiness community in Kansas, Missouri and our adjacent states as one of our ... most important areas of business. We think this affiliation offers numerous advantages and a win-win situation for our customers, our communities and our bankers."

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