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For the second time in as many weeks, Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia is announcing another acquisition.

Southern’s CEO, Phil Baldwin, confirmed Monday the news contained in a news release that was distributed two days early by the target organization, First Delta Bankshares Inc. of Blytheville. Southern will be acquiring the holding company, which owns First National Bank of Blytheville and the Bank of Trumann.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

The two banks had combined assets as of Dec. 31 of $309 million – $210.5 million at First National and $99 million at Bank of Trumann.

On March 26, Timberland Bank of El Dorado announced that it would be sold to Southern Bancorp in a deal that left Timberland Bancshares Inc. with some $5.8 million worth of nonperforming loans to try to collect. Timberland lost almost $3 million last year after writing off another $5.6 million in bad loans.

In that case, Southern agreed to pay only about half of the bank’s book value. But the purchase of First Delta Bankshares is a “very different situation,” Baldwin told

First National earned $2.16 million in 2008, a solid return on assets of 1.05 percent, while Bank of Trumann earned $1.625 million for a return on assets of 1.63 percent.

Baldwin declined to name the price Southern is paying for the First Delta banks, but he said it would be “more of a traditional market price” than the fire-sale deal in Timberland.

“It’s a very profitable bank with a very strong history,” he said, referring specifically to First National of Blytheville.

Southern Bancorp is the largest rural development bank in the country, and its nonprofit projects include the Southern Good Faith Fund and Southern Financial Partners. It is the parent company of Southern Bank of Arkansas at Arkadelphia, Southern Bancorp Bank of Helena and Southern Bancorp Bank of Ruleville, Miss.

First National Bank will continue to operate as a separate charter, according to the press release. Whether to maintain a separate charter for Bank of Trumann has not been decided, Baldwin said.

“Once again, we’re interest in the [Blytheville] region – the northern part of the Delta,” Baldwin said. And buying a profitable bank in the Delta will help since Southern’s “bank side and mission side need to work together.”

With the addition of Timberland and the First Delta banks, Southern’s asset base – $575 million as of Dec. 31 – will reach more than $1 billion.

Baldwin also confirmed that Southern is looking for more banks to acquire.

“We see a real need in today’s world for an organization like ours,” he said. “The limitation will be the capitalization of Southern Bancorp.”

But he also said that several foundations were interested in providing additional capital so that Southern could continue to expand its footprint.