Equity Bancshares, Inc.
Announces Merger Agreement
July 15, 2016
Equity Bancshares, Inc. Announces Merger Agreement With Community First Bancshares, Inc.
Proposed transaction would add five Arkansas branches to Equity Bank network
Equity Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ:EQBK) (“Equity,” or “the Company”), parent company of Equity Bank has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Community First Bancshares, Inc. (“Community First,” or “CFBI”) of Harrison, Arkansas. Equity will acquire all outstanding common shares of CFBI pursuant to the definitive merger agreement.
Community First Bancshares, Inc., headquartered in Harrison, Arkansas, is the holding company of Community First Bank and its five branch locations in Arkansas: Harrison (2), Berryville, Eureka Springs, and Pea Ridge. CFBI ranks first in deposit market share in Harrison and in the top four within each of the communities it serves. As of March 31, 2016, Community First Bank had total assets of $475 million, net loans of $352 million, and $395 million in deposits. Following the consummation of the transaction, Community First Bank will merge with and into Equity Bank, subject to receipt of customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, as well as the approvals of Equity and CFBI shareholders and CFBI’s disposition of its ownership interest in White River Bancshares, Inc. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Equity reported $1.5 billion in consolidated total assets, net loans of $935 million, and deposits of $1.2 billion as of March 31, 2016, and net income of $3.4 million during the first quarter, ended March 31, 2016. Equity operates 29 Equity Bank offices in Kansas and Missouri.
The proposed merger will be Equity’s tenth strategic transaction in the past 14 years and first since the Company completed its initial public offering on November 16, 2015. The merger with CFBI will add a third state to Equity’s footprint.
“We’re fortunate to collaborate with a community bank similar to ours in people, scope, mission, and philosophy,” said Brad Elliott, Chairman and CEO of Equity. “Our partnership with Community First is an opportunity to strengthen our two companies as one. We believe that this transaction continues Equity’s model of adding mid-size markets to supplement its metropolitan areas of Kansas City and Wichita. The individuals joining our team have consistently served as a resource for their customers and local communities. Equity will continue our mission to serve as the best of both worlds – with sophisticated products and services delivered through the feel of a hometown, community bank. We are proud to continue to build on Community First’s success.”
“We’re pleased to join Equity, and to find a partner dedicated to the continued service and partnership within our local communities,” said Jerry Maland, Chairman, President and CEO of CFBI. “Equity shares our approach to local decision making and straightforward customer service, as well as a similar client approach, culture, and operating styles. We think our customers will benefit from the additional products and service of a strong bank network, dedicated to the continued growth of our Arkansas employees, customers and communities. In addition, our customers can count on continued local service by our Board and our key Community First leaders, including Dave Morton, Ann Main, and Danny Criner.”
Following the transaction’s completion, CFBI Directors will continue their service as Arkansas community board members to Equity’s Arkansas markets. Equity will add two directors from CFBI’s Board of Directors to serve on the Equity Board of Directors. Equity also will retain key management in its Arkansas market, including Ann Main promoted to Arkansas Market Leader, David Morton as Arkansas CEO, and Danny Criner remaining as Chief Credit Officer of Arkansas locations while serving on Equity’s loan committee.
At the close of the transaction, Equity will be comprised of approximately $2.1 billion in assets and 34 branch offices across its three-state footprint of Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. The combined institution is expected to include $1.7 billion in deposits and $1.4 billion in loans. Based on $2.1 billion in consolidated assets, the combined company would be the third largest bank holding company headquartered in Kansas at the time of this release.
Equity Bank and First Community Bank will work together to build equity and foster entrepreneurship in the communities in which they operate.