By Ted Carter
Columbus-based BankFirst Capital Corp. is set to add East Mississippi to its market footprint with the acquisition of Newton County Bancorp, a $162 million bank headquartered in the city of Newton.
The banks say they have definitive agreement on a deal they expect to close in the third quarter. The deal’s financial terms have not yet been disclosed.
With the merger, BankFirst will grow its total assets from $741 million to $875 million. The deal increases BankFirst’s branch numbers to 18 across 10 Mississippi counties. BankFirst also has a location Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Newton County is bordered by Lauderdale County to the east and Neshoba County to the north.
The acquisition will make BankFirst the 11th largest Mississippi-based banking institution and will capture a top 10 share of the Mississippi state-wide deposit market.
BankFirst said in a press statement that the transaction “attractively expands our footprint in central Mississippi and provides additional operating scale across our bank.”
Moak Griffin, BankFirst president & CEO, said in the press release that Newton County Bank has consistently ranked as one of the best performing banks in Mississippi. “We look forward to keeping their culture and performance intact,” he said.
Bill Freeman, Newton County Bank president & CEO, will serve as the Newton Community Bank president following the transaction and will also join the BankFirst Board of Directors.
Freeman said the merger will make Newton County Bank part of a larger, high-performing bank “with a culture and customer focus very similar to ours.”
Added Freeman: “This partnership will benefit our customers, our community, and our employees, immediately and over the long term.”
BankFirst moved its headquarters from Macon to Columbus in mid 2013.
Its move into Central Mississippi began in 2002 and has led to the opening of locations in Jackson, Flowood and Madison. This year it expanded into Hattiesburg. It opened its Tuscaloosa operation in 2014.
BankFirst’s latest transaction, expected to close in the third quarter of 2015, won unanimous approval from the boards of both companies but remains subject to approval by NCB’s shareholders. It also must gain approval from federal and state regulatory authorities.