Friday, July 5, 2013

Metropolitan National Bank bought by Texas investor

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

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Lots more to be known in the days ahead, but here's the news release from Metropolitan National Bank on the purchase of the Little Rock institution, which has been struggling to regain its footing in recent years. The buyer of control of the holding company that owns the bank is a Texas private equity firm and the announcement says existing management will remain intact:

Talk Business said the Texas investment fund will pay $16 million for controlling stock and make an unspecified capital investment. A bank spokesman said the stock purchase price is reflected in a bankruptcy filing mentioned below. The release:

Lunsford W. Bridges, President and CEO of Metropolitan National Bank, announced today that the bank’s holding company, Rogers Bancshares, has signed a definitive agreement with Ford Financial Fund II, L.P., to purchase and recapitalize the bank. The transaction will significantly strengthen the bank’s balance sheet and restore its compliance with regulatory capital requirements.

Ford Financial Fund II, L.P., a Dallas, Texas-based private equity firm specializing in financial services companies and co-managed by Gerald J. Ford and Carl B. Webb, will make the investment through its wholly owned subsidiary, LR Acquisition Company, LLC. As one of the most experienced teams of bank investors and operators in the United States with demonstrated success since 1975, Ford Financial Fund II has raised $750 million to invest in U.S. banks; their first investment will be used to recapitalize Metropolitan National Bank. [Gerald Forbes is a billionaire on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. This particular investment vehicle was established this year.]

“We have been working diligently for several years to secure a strategic partner with a shared vision and commitment to move forward Metropolitan’s unique brand of Nearby & Neighborly banking,” said Bridges. “The capital investment will be the final step in achieving full compliance with the regulatory order we’ve been operating under since May 2008, and will provide substantial capital to facilitate lending and business development in the communities we serve. Ford Financial Fund II is an ideal fit and the best choice for the bank’s customers, employees and for continued growth and progress in the state.”

“We were attracted to Metropolitan based on the strength of their leadership team and brand,” said Gerald J. Ford, Co-Managing Member of Ford Financial Fund II. “We are career bankers and recognize quality banking. Metropolitan is an outstanding community bank with a solid footprint and reputation in Arkansas. Our combined resources and expertise will result in long-term success and growth.”

Carl B. Webb, Co-Managing Member of Ford Financial Fund II, said “With our investment, Metropolitan will continue as one of the leading community banks in Arkansas, with the capacity to offer a full selection of products and services that are competitive with those at much larger financial institutions, while providing an extraordinary level of customer service. The leadership team, employees and brand are strong, and will remain intact.”

Mr. Ford and Mr. Webb expect to become members of the Metropolitan board of directors when the transaction is finalized.

To facilitate the purchase and recapitalization of the bank, Rogers Bancshares will voluntarily file a petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Consistent with the Court’s procedure under Section 363 of the Code, the Court will supervise a competitive bidding process for the purchase of the Bank’s common stock.

The Chapter 11 filing affects only the holding company and does not affect Metropolitan.

“It is important for our customers, employees and the community to know that Metropolitan National Bank, which operates separately from the holding company, is not a part of the Chapter 11 process,” Bridges said. “It will be business as usual at the bank and all customer deposits remain safe and insured to the fullest extent possible by the FDIC. We deeply appreciate the support of our customers and employees while we have taken time to identify the very best partner to take Metropolitan into the future.”

The holding company’s financial advisor is Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford, Bracewell & Giuliani, and Williams & Anderson serve as the holding company’s legal advisors. Ford’s legal advisor is Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

About Metropolitan National Bank

Metropolitan National Bank is one of Arkansas’ largest banks, offering a comprehensive line of banking, mortgage and wealth management services for individuals, businesses and the public sector. Founded in 1970, the bank currently has assets of $1 billion. Additional information about Metropolitan National Bank can be found at metbank.com.

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