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story.lead_photo.caption The One Bank & Trust headquarters is shown Wednesday at 300 W. Capitol Ave. in Little Rock. - Photo by Jeff Mitchell

The acquisition of One Bank & Trust of Little Rock closed Tuesday, said the new owner, First National Bank of Paragould.

One Bank & Trust, which marketed itself as onebanc, had been in business for 61 years.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"This is an exciting day for all of us," Donald Guinn, chief executive officer of First National Bank of Paragould, said in a prepared statement Wednesday. "Today there is no more separation between One Bank and First National Bank; we are all one family."

First National, which was founded in 1889, announced in April that it had agreed to buy One Bank. Since then, work has been ongoing to get ready for closing the deal and the conversion of One Bank's systems.

First National is the eighth-largest bank in Arkansas with $1.3 billion in assets and will grow to $1.5 billion in assets with the deal closing.

Conversion of all One Bank locations, services and software systems is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 27.

Closing the transaction "feels great," said Jerry Pavlas, chief executive officer of One Bank. Pavlas will remain with First National as market president.

"It's going to be great to do what I like to do, networking and dealing with customers," Pavlas said. "Just help them build a franchise again."

The conversion will begin on Aug. 24, a Friday, Pavlas said.

"We'll open up as First National Bank on Aug. 27," Pavlas said.

One Bank has put up banners and materials announcing the deal in the lobbies of its six Little Rock and North Little Rock branches, Pavlas said. Exterior signs will be changed by Aug. 27.

First National quickly will begin to grow the deposit side of the former One Bank, Pavlas said. Pavlas estimated that One Bank had up to 3,500 deposit customers, as well as more than 2,000 loan customers.

"This is a great day for One Bank," Pavlas said. "And it's probably a greater day for First National Bank. This may have been one of the last opportunities [to enter the Little Rock market]."

Entering central Arkansas was a natural fit for First National, said Blake Guinn, spokesman for the bank.

"We had already expanded into Northwest Arkansas," Blake Guinn said. "We already had a branch in Heber Springs. Little Rock was the next place for us to go. It's always just been finding the right fit."

One Bank operates as First National does, in may ways, Blake Guinn said.

"They've got good local staff members," Blake Guinn said.

With One Bank's six offices, First National will have about 20 offices in Arkansas.

The sale brings to a close one of the worst chapters in the history of banking in Arkansas.

In September 2012, One Bank was hit with its third federal regulatory sanction in 21 months. At the time, Layton Stuart -- chairman, chief executive officer and owner of One Bank for more than 17 years -- was forced out of the bank by regulators.

Among many allegations, Stuart was accused in 2015 of making misrepresentations to the federal government to induce it to invest $17.3 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to One Bank's holding company.

The government claimed that a significant portion of the money was used to personally benefit Stuart, his family and his conspirators.

Stuart died in March 2013.

The government sued several One Bank executives in the fallout of the bank's troubles, but only one executive was convicted. Former Vice President Gary Rickenbach pleaded guilty in 2016 to a charge of misprision, which is an act to conceal a crime. He was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Business on 08/02/2018

Print Headline: Book closes on One Bank & Trust

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