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Closings leave Bank of America with 54 branches in Kansas

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, at 11:43 p.m.

Earlier this month, Bank of America closed a branch in Topeka, leaving it with 54 branches in Kansas.

That’s the fewest number of branches it’s had in the state in the past decade — well below its high of 66 branches in 2002.

With the closure of the branch at 2000 NW Central in Topeka, the bank has shuttered four branches in Kansas this year. In September it closed one of its two branches in Hutchinson and its only one in El Dorado. In June, it closed its sole branch in Augusta.

The $1.4 trillion, Charlotte, N.C.-based bank had earlier announced plans to eliminate as many as 750 branches across the country over the next few years as it looks to trim costs.

In some cases, the bank has sold branches that it would have otherwise closed, such as the 15 it sold in Maine and five it sold in Iowa in separate transactions earlier this year.

Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner said in an e-mail to The Eagle on Wednesday that except for the Augusta branch, the bank didn’t own the real estate of the branches it closed in Kansas this year and that the deposits and the loans were moved to its other branch offices and remain with the bank. She said she didn’t have additional information about the August branch building that she could share.

Even if Bank of America owned the branch buildings it closed, it’s likely they wouldn’t get the interest of competitors, bank executives and consultants said Wednesday.

“We wouldn’t be looking at a facility that doesn’t have the deposits and loans that go with it,” said Brad Elliott, CEO of Equity Bank. Elliott, whose bank has made several bank and bank branch acquisitions in the past couple of years, said there’s really no value to him just buying a building configured for a branch bank.

Chuck Marshall, a banking consultant for the financial institutions group at Kennedy and Coe, said the value of a branch is first and foremost its business.

“When all you’re buying is a building, you don’t get any of the customer relationships that make up what a bank is,” Marshall said. “It’s the customers and the business they bring to a bank that have value.”

Marshall said even in instances where a branch sale includes its deposits and loans, the price of the deal really depends on the value the acquiring bank expects to get from the transaction.

“If it is a piece I am looking for to complete the puzzle,” he said, such as a branch purchase that will allow the acquiring bank to geographically surround a town, “there’s some franchise value to that.”

Wagner said in the e-mail that Bank of America has no more scheduled branch closures in Kansas in 2012.

But she said the bank will close a branch at 138 N. Santa Fe in Salina on March 15. Customers of that branch were notified of the closing in a Nov. 9 letter, Wagner said in the e-mail.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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