Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Centennial's Parent Buys Bank of Commerce

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Centennial's Parent Buys Bank of Commerce

Article excerpt

COMMUNITY BANKING

SARASOTA -- The long-struggling Bank of Commerce will be sold out of bankruptcy to the parent of Centennial Bank.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa on Thursday approved the bid by Home BancShares Inc. to acquire Bank of Commerce, a $196 million- asset, three-office bank whose parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.

A federal judge ordered the auction of the bank last month, rejecting a plan Bank of Commerce had crafted to sell to a Tennessee businessman and remain independent.

Instead, if the court approves a final sale order, Bank of Commerce will be absorbed into Centennial early next year.

Home BancShares won the bidding by offering nearly $3.8 million in consideration, most of which will go to subordinated debt holder Wilmington Trust Co.

Bank of Commerce

Holdings Inc., the bank's parent, owes Wilmington Trust $11 million in trust preferred securities, a sizable debt that had long prevented the bank from luring investors to recapitalize it.

Centennial, which now operates one Sarasota office with just $24 million in deposits, will boost its presence here with Bank of Commerce's $166 million in deposits and $133 million in loans.

"We are excited about the opportunity to expand our footprint in the Sarasota area," Home BancShares Chairman John W. Allison said.

Centennial, based in Conway, Arkansas, is a $9.8 billion-asset bank with 142 offices in Arkansas, Florida, Alabama and New York City.

The buyer hopes to close the deal in the first quarter of 2017, pending the court-approved final sale order and approval by regulators.

Two months ago, Bank of Commerce president/CEO Charlie Murphy said there was "no other alternative" but for the holding company to file for bankruptcy. The company arranged to sell the bank to Byron DeFoor, a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based businessman, who planned to invest $10 million to replenish the long-undercapitalized lender. …

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