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Business and the Economy

AR Firm Plans to Acquire Springfield-Based Liberty Bancshares

The S. Freemont Liberty Bank branch in Springfield

A deal between a Pine Bluff-based financial holding company and Liberty Bancshares, Inc., based in Springfield, is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

The all-stock transaction by Simmons First National Corporation of Liberty Bancshares, which includes its wholly-owned bank subsidiary Liberty Bank, is valued at more than $206 million.

In a Wednesday news release, Simmons First Chairman and CEO George A. Makris, Jr. said “Liberty’s expertise in Small Business lending will enhance our commercial offerings throughout our geographies and will further establish Simmons as a premier community banking organization.”

As of March 31, Liberty had assets of $1.1 billion, loans of $811 million and deposits of $885 million. It was the top U.S. Small Business Administration lender in Missouri in 2012 and 2013.

“We view this strategic merger as a win, win, win situation,” said Gary Metzger, Liberty Chairman and CEO.

Metzger added that additional products and services from Simmons will benefit Liberty’s customers.

Completion of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including approval by both company’s shareholders and regulators, and is expected in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Based in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Simmons First National Corporation is a financial holding company with pro forma assets totaling $7.8 Billion, according to the release. The company conducts financial operations throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee.