Magazine article American Banker

Citizens, Set to Be No. 2 in Category, Aims Higher

Magazine article American Banker

Citizens, Set to Be No. 2 in Category, Aims Higher

Article excerpt

Buying the Alabama thrift CFS Bancshares would make Citizens Bancshares Corp. the nation's second-largest black-owned banking company, but the Atlanta company wants to get much bigger.

"Our strategic goal is to reach an asset size of $1 billion within five years," said Chuck Lewis, the chief operating officer of $293 million-asset Citizens. "We never want to become a stagnant institution. At three or four hundred million, we can't just sit on our laurels."

The parent of Citizens Trust Bank announced its agreement to buy $106 million-asset CFS Bancshares, the Birmingham-based holding company for Citizens Federal Savings, last week.

The $9 million cash deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter and would be Citizens' third bank acquisition (all of black-owned banks) since 1998. It would make Citizens second in assets only to $450 million-asset Carver Bancorp of New York among black-owned banks -- Oxon Hill, Md.-based Industrial Bank, which has assets of $295 million, is currently No. 2 -- and Mr. Lewis said Citizens has its eyes on other possible acquisitions in the South.

Other black-owned banks seeking to leapfrog Carver and Industrial include $262 million-asset Boston Bank of Commerce, which also plans to grow through acquisitions in the next few years. It has bought two banks in the past three years and had a deal for another this year, but it fell through.

However, unlike Citizens Trust, which plans to stick to the South, Boston Bank of Commerce is shopping in all cities that have large black populations. …

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