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Simmons First, Southern Bancorp Announce Deal for Eudora Bank

Unique opportunity comes amid acquisition of Delta Trust.
PINE BLUFF, AR (News release) - Simmons First National Corporation (“Simmons First,” NASDAQ-GS: SFNC) today announced plans to donate the Delta Trust & Bank (“Delta Trust”) branch located in Eudora, Arkansas to Southern Bancorp Bank, a rural-focused Community Development Financial Institution headquartered in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.  

According to George A. Makris, Jr., Simmons First National Corporation Chairman and CEO, the transaction is contingent upon the closing of Simmons First’s acquisition of Delta Trust & Banking Corporation, parent company of Delta Trust, which was announced on March 24 of this year. Due to federal regulations that limit bank acquisitions if a bank already has a significant market share within a defined market area, Simmons First would be unable to operate the branch in Eudora following the Delta Trust acquisition because it and the Simmons First National Bank (“Simmons Bank”) branches in the Lake Village, Arkansas are within the same banking market, as defined by the Federal Reserve System. Therefore, another solution was needed to ensure that the people of Eudora and the surrounding community retained access to the existing credit and banking services. 

“What some people would view as a challenge due to the federal regulations, we saw as a unique opportunity to bring together two organizations with similar core values,” stated Makris. “Part of the Simmons Bank community banking philosophy includes giving back to the communities in which we serve to improve the quality of life for those within the community.  By donating this branch to Southern Bancorp Bank, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected Community Development Financial Institutions, we’re ensuring that the people of Eudora and the surrounding community will have access to uninterrupted financial services as well as a unique array of development services.” 

Makris continued, “We view Community Development Financial Institutions like Southern Bancorp Bank as a valuable resource in the communities that they serve and complementary to our business.”  

Southern Bancorp, Inc., parent company of Southern Bancorp Bank, was created in 1986 by then Governor Bill Clinton, Wal-Mart Chair Rob Walton, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and others who were concerned about the economic decline of rural Arkansas. These founders sought to create a mission-driven financial institution that would focus on the economic and development needs of rural communities by providing responsible and responsive access to financial capital. Nearly three decades later, Southern Bancorp Bank is living up to this mission as one of the nation’s largest community development banks with over $1 billion in assets serving over 80,000 rural customers in 39 branches across Arkansas and Mississippi. Since inception, Southern has provided over $3 billion in loans in high poverty rural markets. 

“Southern Bancorp is excited about expanding our unique brand of banking and development services to Eudora and the surrounding community,” said Southern Bancorp, Inc. CEO Darrin Williams. “Our focus is specifically on rural communities just like Eudora, which means we are aware of both the challenges they face and the opportunities that exist. We are ready to help create those opportunities for the people of Chicot County. I applaud this decision by Simmons First that will ensure continued access to friendly and responsive banking service and capital to the people of Eudora.” 

The transaction between Simmons First and Southern Bancorp Bank will close by October 10, 2014.
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