Simmons bank merger results in 28 branch closures, 12 in Northwest Arkansas

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

The anticipated list of branch closures resulting from Simmons First National’s acquisition of Little Rock-based Metropolitan National bank was made public by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency this week.


Pine Bluff-based Simmons filed applications to close 27 branches of the pro forma bank with the regulatory agency on Dec. 19, in addition to one other application to close the Simmons branch in Bella Vista, which was recently shuttered. The 27 branches are slated to cease operations on March 22.


A total of 12 branches in Northwest Arkansas made the closure list, including the Simmons branch in Bella Vista.

NWA CLOSURES
Metropolitan National branches
• 300 Walton Boulevard, Bentonville
• 200 Hudson Road, Rogers
• 2691 Mission Boulevard, Fayetteville
• 4000 Great House Road, Springdale
• 3701 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Rogers
• 4201 Pleasant Crossing, Rogers
• 1950 Pleasant Street, Springdale

Simmons First National branches
• 2971 North College Avenue, Fayetteville
• 5105 South Thompson Avenue, Springdale
• 703 East Douglas, Prairie Grove
• 405 Town Center, Bella Vista (recently closed)
• 3210 South Walton Boulevard, Bentonville

Simmons chose not to release the total of anticipated lost jobs resulting from these branch closures, deferring comment until next week when the holding company will report earnings on Jan. 23. 


The branch closures come as no surprise. CEO George Makris told investors and analysts in September that there would be branch consolidation in Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock. He said the banks’ staffs would work together before the end of 2013 to assess the best course of action for the branch consolidation.
 Makris said the closings would likely take place before April as there is a 90-day notice period required before a branch closure can take place.

Metropolitan operates 12 branches in Northwest Arkansas, seven of which will be shuttered. Analysts have said Metropolitan was a real estate play in Northwest Arkansas given its physical property and inability to grow deposits to sustainable levels in this market.

Simmons operated 10 branches in Benton and Washington counties prior to the acquisition, having since opted to shutter five of those locations. The pro forma bank will wind up with 10 branches in Northwest Arkansas at these locations:
• 4033 North Shiloh Drive, Fayetteville
• 3971 West Wedington Drive, Fayetteville
• 3111 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Fayetteville
• 706 West Sunset Avenue, Springdale
• 2832 West Sunset, Springdale
• 3975 New Hope Road, Rogers
• 111 North 8th Street, Rogers
• 1411 South Walton Boulevard, Bentonville
• Highway 62 South, Lincoln
• 1002 S. Mount Olive Street, Siloam Springs

John Dominick, banking analyst and finance professor at the University of Arkansas, said staff cuts are a long-time coming given many of Metropolitan National’s local branches did not have enough deposits to feasibly support their existence.

Metropolitan noted in the bankruptcy proceedings that there were 438 employees between the two markets – Little Rock metro area and Northwest Arkansas. The bank had just under $1 billion in assets, which breaks down to about $2.25 million in assets per person. The industry benchmark is roughly $4 million in assets per person, with more efficient banks operators achieving $5 million per employee. Substantial staff cuts are likely if the Simmons seeks to normalize employees-per-assets in this pro forma bank, according to Dominick.

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Metropolitan’s investment in Northwest Arkansas exceeded $30 million in branch infrastructure between 2005 and 2007. The branches in Benton and Washington counties had a book value of roughly $40 million, according to the bankruptcy filing. But deposits in those branches totaled just $70 million, making them expensive operations for a bank low on capital.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS

16 branch locations in central Arkansas were also tagged to close on March 22.
• Downtown Little Rock, 320 West Capitol Ave., Little Rock
• UAMS branch at 5000 West Markham Street, Little Rock
• 1717 Merrill Drive, Little Rock
• 1818 N. Taylor St., Little Rock
• 11000 Financial Center Parkway, Little Rock
• 11821 Colonel Glen Road, Little Rock
• Chenal Kroger Branch, 16105 Chenal Pkwy., Little Rock
• 3200 JFK Blvd., North LIttle Rock
• 3607 East Kiehl, Sherwood,
• 21 Bill Foster Memorial Hwy., Cabot
• 1025 Markham Street, Conway
• 820 Elsinger Blvd., Conway
• 2400 Donahey Ave., Conway
• 2895 Dave Ward Dr., Conway
• 1210 S. Rock Stree, Sheridan
• 2030 John Hardin Drive, Jacksonville

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