The boards of directors of Citizens Bank of Lafayette and Liberty State Bank, which has three locations in DeKalb County, announced Tuesday they have entered into a definitive agreement to merge the two banks.
Under the agreement, Liberty State Bank will be merged with and into Citizens Bank of Lafayette, with Citizens Bank of Lafayette to be the bank to survive the merger. Citizens Bank of Lafayette will continue to operate the current Liberty State Bank branches under the Liberty State Bank name.
According to a prepared news release sent to media outlets, The merger is expected to be completed prior to the end of 2013, and will offer both businesses and consumers in surrounding communities a broader array of locations for banking services. With its acquisition of Liberty State Bank, Citizens Bank of Lafayette’s total assets will exceed $630 million, and Citizens Bank of Lafayette will have 15 branches covering Macon, DeKalb, Wilson, Sumner, Clay, Jackson and Smith counties.
“For over 100 years, both Citizens Bank of Lafayette and Liberty State Bank have consistently served our communities for their financial needs,” said Pete Williston, chief executive of Citizens Bank of Lafayette. “While our holding company, Citizens Bancorp Investment, Inc., has owned a majority of Liberty’s stock since 1999, Citizens Bancorp Investment, Inc.’s acquisition of the remaining Liberty State Bank shares via the merger of the two banks will be beneficial to our customers, employees, and shareholders.”
The definitive agreement providing for the merger of the banks was unanimously approved by the board of directors of each of Citizens Bancorp Investment, Inc., Citizens Bank of Lafayette, and Liberty State Bank. The merger of the banks is subject to certain conditions, including the receipt of all required approvals from regulatory authorities and the approval of the definitive agreement by the shareholders of Liberty State Bank.
“We believe that this merger is in the best interests of all of our key constituents, including our employees, who will have additional opportunities for growth,” said Roy Pugh, president and CEO of Liberty State Bank. “I am pleased to say that, in addition to keeping the Liberty State Bank name, all of our employees will retain their jobs. This is significant to our employees and their families, and the communities that we serve.”
Another advantage to customers is that they will have 13 ATM locations to utilize throughout Middle Tennessee, along with access to more than 23,000 surcharge-free ATMs all over the country through the Money Pass network. After the merger, it is anticipated that doing business in a Liberty State Bank branch will be no different than doing business at a Citizens Bank of Lafayette branch, Smith County Bank branch or Bank of Celina branch.
“Both banks have a similar history and philosophy that will greatly benefit our customers, shareholders and employees,” Citizens Bank of Lafayette President Joe Carter said. “Citizens’ focus for over 100 years has been to serve the needs of our communities, our friends, and our neighbors. Liberty has had that same focus, and we intend to continue that tradition. Our directors, officers, and employees look forward to working with Liberty’s officers and employees to better serve the DeKalb and Wilson county communities.”
The combined bank will continue to be headquartered in Lafayette, the site of the current headquarters of Citizens Bank of Lafayette. Liberty State Bank will retain its presence in DeKalb and Wilson counties, with five banking locations serving Alexandria, Lebanon, Liberty and Smithville.
“We’re helped by the fact that both banks have been operating under similar organizational structures and business models, and there is tremendous talent in both organizations,” Williston said. “In addition to the strategic benefits of combining two highly complementary banks, we can create substantial shareholder value through significant cost improvements and access to new growth opportunities.”
Citizens Bank of Lafayette is a state-chartered banking corporation with about $474 million in assets headquartered in Lafayette. It operates 10 banking locations as Citizens Bank in Lafayette, Westmoreland, Red Boiling Springs, Hermitage Springs and Gainesboro; as Bank of Celina in Celina; and as Smith County Bank in Carthage. Citizens Bank of Lafayette is owned by Citizens Bancorp Investment, Inc., a bank holding company headquartered in Lafayette.