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Liberty Bank to acquire Village Bank

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Last edited 9:06 a.m., Dec. 29, 2010

Liberty Bank has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Village Bank, an acquisition expected to be finalized in the first quarter.

"It was a good fit for us. It was an in-market acquisition," said Liberty Bank President and CEO Gary Metzger, adding that Village Bank has roughly $56 million in loans and another $13 million in assets. "That addition will help us expand our footprint here in Springfield."

The acquisition will bring Liberty Bank's assets to approximately $1.1 billion.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Village Bank building, 2360 E. Sunshine St., will become a Liberty Bank branch likely in February or March, pending approval by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Missouri Division of Finance, he said.

Village Bank's more than 1,800 customers will be sent several notifications providing them information about the acquisition, but it will be up to individual customers whether they want to go with Liberty Bank, Metzger said.

"We will work to try and earn their business and keep their business," he said, noting Liberty Bank has more ATMs and 19 branches throughout southwest Missouri.

Village Bank has approximately 20 part- and full-time employees, but Metzger said it's too early in the process to say if the workers will be kept on as Liberty Bank employees.

In a news release, Village Bank President George Marino pointed to financial problems and the pressure of the economic climate as to why the bank is selling.

Village Bank closed three of its four branches in late 2009.

"When looking ahead at the tightened regulatory environment and the continued stress on the economy, we felt it was in the best interest of our customers and shareholders to partner with an organization like Liberty Bank," he said in the release.

In early 2010, it was determined by BankTracker - an online research tool developed by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University in Washington, D.C. - that Village Bank had a troubled asset ratio of 106.2. The ratio compares loans past due 90 days or more, loans in nonaccrual status and bank-owned property, to capital and loan loss reserves. The national median through three quarters in 2009 was 14.1, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.

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