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Mercantile Bank to close six branch sites in area

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Mercantile Bank will close six of its 33 branches in south-central Missouri, a result, bank officials say, of the bank's recent mergers and the resultant rise in the number of branches in the area.

"All of these branches were very close to other branches, and it didn't make sense to have them so close together," said Greg Williams, vice president for the bank's south-central Missouri region.

The bank anticipates no future closings. "That's why we're announcing six closings now rather than one or two," Williams said.

The banks will close as of Dec. 11, Williams said. The branches to be closed include two in Springfield: a bank in the Dillon's store at 2843 E. Sunshine and one at 2920 E. Chestnut Expwy. will close.

The Dillon's bank was Mercantile's only grocery-bank property, though it has a branch in a Wal-Mart store. The bank will also close its only Nixa branch, because of poor performance rather than proximity, Williams said.

"In my opinion, at this time Nixa is overbanked. We just weren't getting the numbers there that we had anticipated," Williams said.

The bank will also close offices at 3285 Falls Parkway in Branson, at 102 S. Springfield in Bolivar and at 1505 S. Jefferson in Lebanon.

Following the closings, Mercantile will have 27 branch offices in south-central Missouri, with eight in Springfield.

Though each branch typically employs between four and six people, Williams said he did not know exactly how many employees will be affected by the closings.

Mercantile has acquired Southwest, Mark Twain and Roosevelt banks in the past few years, and while the bank will not offer information about any future acquisitions, the industry in general should see a slowing of merger activity for the next couple of years, said Beth Fagan, with Mercantile in St. Louis.

"While Mercantile does not comment on its merger and acquisition activity in the banking industry, you will see a slowdown in merger activity in the industry because of the year 2000 conversion issues," Fagan said.

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