While much of the banking world finds itself still reeling from the political, economic and consumer confidence fall-out of the Great Recession, two privately held Texas banks are emerging from the financial storm as key players in the Houston market and are giving the regional and national money-center banks a run for their money.
On March 7, the holding companies for Beaumont-based CommunityBank of Texas (CBFH, Inc.) and Vista Bank Texas (VB Texas, Inc.) announced the two banks have formed a strategic partnership and will merge to create one of the largest independent banks in Houston. Striking a partnership between the two strong Texas bank franchises takes advantage of both organizations’ strengths and allows for great synergies according to Robert Franklin, Jr., chairman and CEO of Vista Bank Texas.
“What has become even more obvious to our markets over the last five years is that it’s the independent banks that are propelling growth,” said Franklin. “Our successful relationship-driven community banking model will provide us with a competitive edge in Houston’s burgeoning economy and bring extensive capital resources that can be dedicated to this growing market.”
Both banks opened their doors at the start of the economic downturn, but thrived while other banks floundered. CommunityBank of Texas opened its doors with just $140 million in assets in 2007. In less than 18 months, the bank’s assets had grown to more than $1 billion with a new branch opening almost every 60 days. Today, CommunityBank reports assets of $1.7 billion.
Vista Bank Texas opened in 2006 with just over $60 million in assets. Through targeted growth, Vista now has seven Houston-area branches and assets in excess of $606 million.
“These are two independent powerhouses coming together to fill a hole in the Houston banking market,” said J. Pat Parsons, chairman and CEO of CommunityBank of Texas. “Big corporate banks simply aren’t flexible or nimble enough to work with customers on a personal level anymore. We saw an opportunity and seized it. With the combined resources and strengths of two extremely well-capitalized institutions behind us, we are able to significantly increase commercial lending dollars available to the Houston community and across Southeast Texas.”
CommunityBank of Texas Senior Chairman Walter Umphrey noted that once the merger is complete, the newly formed bank will exceed $2.3 billion in assets.
In addition to being appointed to the boards of both CommunityBank of Texas and CBFH, Inc., Franklin will serve as Co-CEO with Parsons, a move that strengthens the management team. Pending shareholder and regulatory approvals, the merger between CommunityBank of Texas and Vista Bank Texas is expected to be finalized by the end of third quarter 2013, although delays may occur.
In this merger, one thing that will take some time is the conversion of the computer operating systems the of the two banks. Because this is a true merger – rather than one bank taking over or buying out the other – the combined bank which will be called CommunityBank of Texas will retain the strengths of both institutions.