Simmons First bidding on other Arkansas bank

Arkansas' Simmons First National bank bidding nearly $17M for Metropolitan National Bank

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff has submitted a $16.9 million bid to acquire Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock, which is being offered for sale through the bankruptcy of its holding company.

A document detailing the bid was submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, Arkansas Business reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/14nnrbM ).

Rogers Bancshares Inc. owns Metropolitan and is offering to sell Metropolitan through an auction Monday that would be the first of its kind in Arkansas banking history. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Mixon has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 12 to consider approving the winning bid.

Calls to Simmons First were not immediately returned.

It is unclear if other companies have submitted bids, but Simmons was required to notify the SEC of any "material event" as a publicly traded company.

Simmons and any other bidders will compete for the bank against Ford Financial Fund II, a $750 million investment fund based in Dallas. Metropolitan announced in July that Ford had offered $16 million for all of the bank's stock.

The Ford fund will play the role of "stalking horse" in the bankruptcy reorganization, meaning that it will have the opportunity to match a more favorable bid submitted by other entities. If Ford ends up being outbid, Rogers Bancshares will have to pay Ford a $640,000 "break-up fee," which will also require the judge's approval.

Metropolitan suffered from a number of troubled loans in northwestern Arkansas that led to $100 million in losses in 2008. The bank has been under a supervisory agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency since May 2008 and has worked since 2009 to find someone to recapitalize it.

Ford has said it intends to make a $74.2 million capital contribution to the bank if it is the successful bidder.

Metropolitan had assets of $1.03 billion and equity capital of $65.7 million as of March 31. Simmons First National is a $3.6 billion financial holding company with 91 offices in 54 communities, in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.

Simmons last year won a bid to acquire Excel Bank in Sedalia, Mo., in an FDIC-assisted deal. It also made two FDIC-assisted acquisitions in 2010, one in Springfield, Mo., and one in Olathe, Kan.

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Information from: Arkansas Business, http://www.arkansasbusiness.com

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