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Fort Worth’s Southwest Bank is bought by Simmons First National

Vernon Bryant is Chairman and CEO of First Texas, the parent of Southwest Bank. The banking company will merge with Simmons First National out of Pine Bluff, Ark.
Vernon Bryant is Chairman and CEO of First Texas, the parent of Southwest Bank. The banking company will merge with Simmons First National out of Pine Bluff, Ark.

Southwest Bank, Fort Worth’s biggest locally-owned bank run by industry veteran Vernon Bryant, is being bought out by a fast-growing regional banking company out of Arkansas.

Simmons First National Corp., which entered the Texas market last year with its purchase of Bank SNB, will acquire First Texas BHC, Southwest’s parent company, in a deal valued at $462 million.

Once the deal is completed, Simmons plans to keep the Southwest Bank brand, and the operation will continue to be led by Bryant, who will head up its new Southwest Division encompassing Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. He also will join the Simmons board.

“We now have the opportunity to substantially grow our presence in the Fort Worth metropolitan area by joining with one of the best run, most respected financial organizations in Texas,” said George A. Makris Jr., Simmons’ Chairman and CEO, in a statement.

“Vernon Bryant and his leadership team are exemplary bankers who understand the industry and get the importance of excellent customer service,” the statement read. “Their success, both for their customers and for their organization, makes me confident that we have teamed with another great banking partner.”

Southwest Bank operates 15 area offices, including seven in Fort Worth, two in Arlington, two in Dallas and one each in Burleson, Grapevine, Mansfield and Saginaw. First Texas BHC, the holding company, has assets of $2 billion and deposits of $1.5 billion.

“We at First Texas are excited about the strategic partnership with Simmons,” said Bryant, in a statement. “Simmons is a top-notch, fast-growing regional bank. With that comes additional products and services, as well as a larger balance sheet, that can only result in substantial benefits for our customers.”

Bryant has been a leading community banker in Fort Worth and Texas for more than 25 years. He formed First Texas BHC in late 2006 and bought Southwest Bank in 2007.

Prior to that, he headed TexasBank from 1989 to 2006, when it was acquired by Compass Bank.

Simmons, based in Pine Bluff, Ark., has been on a buying spree. In November, the company announced the purchase of Hardeman Investment Co., in Jackson, Tenn., and in December it purchased Southwest Bancorp Inc. in Stillwater, Okla.

Makris said Simmons expects to complete the three recent acquisitions by the third quarter, which will boost the company’s assets to about $13 billion from $8.4 billion.

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko

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