The first Arkansas-based bank to do business in Wichita is a conservative firm with deep pockets and an appetite for more acquisitions.
That's according to documents and people familiar with Simmons First National Bank, whose holding company of the same name last week acquired most of the assets and all the branches of the failed Security Savings Bank.
Olathe-based Security Savings, at one time a more than $800 million savings bank with nine branches, was closed Friday by the Office of Thrift Supervision, succumbing to a string of unprofitable quarters and a portfolio of troubled loans.
Simmons First National is a 107-year-old, $1.5 billion bank with 36 branches in Arkansas and one in Missouri. It is one of eight banks owned by Simmons First National Corp., which has more than $3 billion in assets and is traded on the Nasdaq stock market.
The acquisition of Security Savings was Simmons' second this year. The other, Southwest Community Bank in Springfield, Mo., also was an acquisition of a failed bank.
"This acquisition (of Security) is the second of several that we anticipate making over the next two to three years," J. Thomas May, the holding company's chairman and CEO, said in announcement Friday about the Security acquisition.
A year ago Simmons First National Corp. raised $70.5 million in capital to acquire banks.
Simmons officials did not return several messages and voice mails left Friday and Monday for comment.
Randy Dennis, president of bank consulting firm DD&F Consulting Group, said Simmons is an "extremely well-respected Arkansas bank... a very well-run bank."
"They're not somebody who is going to run off and do some crazy stuff," said Dennis, whose Little Rock-based firm has done work for Simmons.
"I think you'll find them to be a very good competitor."
The bank touts itself as a community bank, operating in its different markets with local decision making. That is true, Dennis said. "They are very market oriented."
Dennis also said the bank is supportive of and sensitive to its employees. In March, the holding company announced that it was closing nine financial centers in nine Arkansas cities. In its statement about the closings, it said it would retain all of its employees at the affected centers and find them jobs elsewhere in the company.
"Our philosophy has and continues to be that, when we close a location, we will find a job for every associate," May, the company's chairman, said in the announcement.
According to a presentation it made at the Gulf South Banking Conference in May, the company's $1.8 billion loan portfolio comprised loans of 32 percent in commercial real estate — 70 percent of it owner occupied — 21 percent in home loans, 9 percent in construction, and 8 percent each in commercial and industrial loans and student loans.
The company also said it would target agricultural lending with its expansion into Kansas. Agriculture loans accounted for 4 percent of its portfolio, according to its presentation at the conference.