Simmons First National Corp. said Jan. 19 that its pending acquisition of Hardeman County Investment Co. Inc. will be delayed because it received a public comment on its regulatory application.
Simmons announced plans to acquire Hardeman County in mid-November 2016 and had previously expected the deal to close in the first quarter. The company now expects to close that deal "no earlier" than the second quarter after receiving a public comment on its application with regulators.
Simmons First Chairman and CEO George Makris Jr. said on a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter results that the company received a comment on the final day of the comment period. The executive noted that the individual providing comment on the Hardeman transaction has previously objected to other bank deals, including some of Simmons' prior acquisitions. He said the Fed previously determined that past comments were without merit but the mergers still incurred delays.
Other buyers have experienced similar delays after receiving adverse public comments on a proposed acquisition, even those made by so-called serial protestors. Regulators are required to review all public comments on transactions.
The situation is no different for Simmons. Makris noted that the company's acquisition application has been removed from the St. Louis Fed and now will be processed in Washington, D.C. He said Simmons has submitted a response to the comment but has no indication when it will receive a consideration from the Fed.
Makris said comments on past applications delayed the process by two months and noted that the company will continue to work through the other aspects of the merger closing process as it waits for regulatory approval. He said the individual that has objected to transactions has cited issues that are evaluated on a normal basis through standard regulatory exams.
The executive further said that it is simply too early to determine whether the comment on the Hardeman deal will have an impact on the company's planned purchase of Southwest Bancorp Inc.