Home Bancshares Buys Two Lenders as U.S. Failures This Year Climb to 108

Home Bancshares Inc., the Arkansas bank with $3 billion in assets, purchased two seized lenders and regulators closed three others as this year’s failures climbed to 108.

Home Bancshares acquired about $415 million in deposits and 13 branches in its third and fourth purchases of failed Florida banks this year, according to statements posted to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s website. Banks in Georgia, Washington and Oregon were also closed. The five failures cost the FDIC’s deposit-insurance fund $334.7 million.

“This is a terrific opportunistic acquisition which allows us to further expand our current Florida footprint,” C. Randall Sims, chief executive officer of Home BancShares, said in a statement. “The Panhandle represents a natural extension to our current Florida footprint and serves as a popular, longtime vacation destination for many Arkansans.”

Regulators may close the most banks this year since 1992 as souring residential and commercial mortgages impair capital levels. The FDIC included 775 banks with $431 billion in assets on the confidential list of problem lenders as of March 31, an increase from 702 banks with $402.8 billion at the end of the fourth quarter. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair has said 2010 failures will surpass last year’s total of 140.

Home Bancshares, through its Centennial Bank unit, acquired Florida-based lenders Bayside Savings Bank and Coastal Community Bank, the FDIC said. It added offices from Port Saint Joe’s Bayside and Panama City Beach’s Coastal Community Bank.

Recession Hits Florida

Florida is among U.S. states hardest hit by the recession. Regulators have closed 20 banks in the state so far this year. Home Bancshares bought two of them before its latest purchases, according to the FDIC. The bank had $2.2 billion of deposits at the end of the June, according to Bloomberg data.

Heritage Financial Corp. paid a 1 percent premium for the deposits and some assets of Longview, Washington-based Cowlitz Bank, the FDIC said. Heritage, based in Olympia, Washington, picked up about 62 percent of the assets Cowlitz held at the end of March and all nine branches, the agency said. The FDIC kept the remaining assets for later sale.

Home Federal Bancorp also paid the FDIC a 1 percent premium to purchase the $718.5 million in deposits held at the end of March by LibertyBank, closed by Oregon banking regulators. Nampa, Idaho’s Home Federal picked up 15 branches of Liberty, based in Eugene, Oregon. The lender held $869 million in assets at the end of June, according to Bloomberg data.

State banking regulators also closed Acworth, Georgia’s NorthWest Bank and Trust, the 11th bank to fail in Georgia this year, the FDIC said. The agency sold the lender to State Bank & Trust Co., of Macon, Georgia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dakin Campbell in San Francisco at dcampbell27@bloomberg.net

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