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Home BancShares expects to announce deal within 30 days

Home BancShares Inc. Chairman, President and CEO John Allison expects to announce a deal within the next month.

The deal is not yet finalized, but Allison said he is optimistic. The typically colorful executive said someone told him not to talk about the deal during prepared remarks, but he disclosed the bid as part of the question-and-answer session of the company's fourth-quarter 2019 earnings call on Jan. 16.

"We'll probably announce some kind of transaction in the next 30 days here we've bid on, and we would hope to be successful in the transaction," Allison said. "It's not a big transaction, but it is a transaction that gives a little kick to EPS."

On other larger deals, Allison said it seems like a good time to be looking for acquisitions, and the bank expects to be "back in M&A business" this year or next. Analysts asked about mergers-of-equals, and while Allison said the bank would consider an MOE, he suggested fairly restrictive criteria.

"I think if we do an MOE, we'll be the surviving corporation," Allison said, adding that he would be willing to be the target if the merger partner ran a better company.

"The ones that we've looked at through this period of time, Home [BancShares] has to be the survivor because they don't run the performance that this company runs," he said. "I have no intention, and I don't think our board has any intention, of taking this company and putting it in the hands of somebody who doesn't run at the level that we run."

Asked about the size of potential transactions, Allison said the company would prefer "warming ourselves back up" with the acquisition of a bank with $1 billion to $2 billion in assets.