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Emprise Bank marks 25th anniversary; exec says time may be ripe for another acquisition

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, at 7:27 p.m.


The chairman of Emprise Bank said Monday it’s been awhile since the the city’s third-largest bank made an acquisition, and maybe it’s time for another.

“If we could find the right deal to put together,” said Mike Michaelis.

Michaelis’ comments come as the $1.5 billion-asset bank that is owned by his family nears its 25th anniversary under the Emprise name.

Jan. 1 marks a quarter-century under the Emprise name. The bank, with headquarters at 257 N. Broadway, is the area’s third-largest Kansas-based bank in terms of deposits.

Three former Wichita banks – all owned by the Michaelis family – make up the foundation of what is Emprise today: United American Bank & Trust, National Bank of Wichita and Wichita State Bank.

Michaelis, who started in the banking business in 1969, said the decision to merge three banks into one was made by an easing of banking regulations. As it was, the Michaelis-owned banks competed with one another and were inefficient because even though they had the same ownership, each had a separate board of directors, president and other senior management – and different customers.

“We were having multiple board meetings, multiple examinations, multiple audits, multiple everything,” said Michaelis, who was chairman and CEO of the three banks.

In all, the family owned about a dozen banks in the state. Michaelis’ father, oilman W.A. Michaelis Jr., had acquired the banks as a way to diversify his holdings.

When the first merger took effect, the three banks became known as Emprise based on the recommendation of a Denver consultant, Michaelis said. The Emprise name was later applied to other Michaelis-owned banks in the state. Additional easing of bank regulations and the drive for greater efficiency prompted the merger of those banks’ charters into the Wichita charter, an effort that was completed in 2005.

Emprise operates 41 offices in 23 Kansas cities and towns, more than half of them in the Wichita area.

About a year after consolidating its charters, Emprise made its biggest acquisition, that of Augusta-based Prairie State Bank, a $25.9 million deal that gave Emprise a “doughnut” of 11 branches around Wichita, said president Tom Page.

“It was a meaningful increase in terms of deposits and loans,” Michaelis said. “It kind of stepped us up a bit. I think it kind of changed the way people look at Emprise.”

Michaelis said the bank is now looking to grow both internally and through acquisitions, especially in markets where it already has a presence. While he thinks another acquisition is likely, he’s not saying when.

“It’s a matter of timing,” he said, in terms of finding the right bank that is ready to be acquired, the economic environment and other variables.

Even if Emprise were to find the right candidate, it could be awhile before a deal is made. Page said it took Emprise and Prairie State officials nearly six years to get that deal done.

“I think we have been appropriately disciplined and focused” on making acquisitions, Page said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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