Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commerce Bank Plans Expansion in Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commerce Bank Plans Expansion in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Commerce Bank of Kansas City, Mo., will use its new Tulsa foothold to expand into Oklahoma City and other parts of the Sooner State.

"We're already adding a lot of customers down there," said Kevin Barth, executive vice president of Commercial Bancshares, noting the 140-year-old bank had a history of such accounts going back to before Oklahoma statehood. "We've added three major commercial customers down there in the last six weeks."

That $15.2 billion bank holding company completed its acquisition of South Tulsa Financial Corp. Friday after investors of the Tulsa parent of Bank South approved the $27.3 million stock transaction.

Commerce Bank actually entered Tulsa in June when it opened a commercial office under Rick Lehrter. It will now merge into Bank South, although Barth expects that commercial loan focus will remain a primary growth area.

Carl Hudgins, president and chief executive of Bank South, will retain that position with the new Tulsa division. Customers should see its name change by May 1, he said, once the phone and operations systems are upgraded. Officials are still finalizing a marketing plan to tout the transformation.

Digesting that operation gives Commerce Bank two Tulsa full- service branches managing $129 million in assets, $114 million in gross loans and $105 million in total deposits. By comparison, at Dec. 31 Commerce Bank had assets of $13.89 billion, loans and leases of $9.28 billion, and deposits of $10.7 billion.

Hudgins expects Commerce to aggressively expand its Tulsa footprint with both physical branches and its automated teller machine network.

"Within three years, it's not unreasonable to expect the size of this bank to be in the $250 million to $300 million range," he said.

For expanding into Oklahoma City and beyond, Barth said Commerce Bank officials are weighing their options between de novo and acquisition. …

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