BancorpSouth to acquire FNS Bancshares for $108.4M

BancorpSouth Bank has signed a definitive merger agreement with FNS Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of FNB Bank in a $108.4 million transaction. Following the merger, FNS will merge into $24 billion asset BancorpSouth, headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Founded in 1900 in Scottsboro, Alabama, FNS operates 17 full-service banking offices in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. As of Sept. 30, 2020 FNS reported $786.5 million in assets, $492.5 million in loans and $665.9 million in deposits.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, BancorpSouth will issue 2,975,000 shares of common stock and $18 million in cash for all outstanding shares of FNS capital stock, the company noted in a statement.

Based upon the closing price of BancorpSouth common stock on Jan. 12, 2021, the transaction is valued at an aggregate amount of approximately $108.4 million or $90.04 per share of FNS common stock.

Once the transaction is complete, FNS CEO Steve Rownd will serve as a BancorpSouth division president.

The merger will mark BancorpSouth’s entrance into the Georgia market. Specifically, BancorpSouth’s presence will expand in Alabama’s Jackson, DeKalb and Marshall counties, and the Chattanooga, Tennessee-Georgia and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tennessee metropolitan statistical areas.

“We are excited about this partnership and look forward to welcoming FNS’s teammates and customers to BancorpSouth,” said Dan Rollins, BancorpSouth chairperson and CEO. “FNS is a 120-year-old institution with deep ties in its local markets and is an ideal fit with our culture as a relationship-driven community bank.”

The boards of directors of both companies approved the merger unanimously. Pending approval from regulators and FNS shareholders, the transaction should close during the first half of 2021.

“Our customers have come to expect exceptional service from our bank, so we’re pleased to have an opportunity to join forces with another more than 100-year-old company that continues to operate as a true community bank,” Alan Gay, FNS board chairperson. “BancorpSouth’s resources and strengths, and its commitment to maintaining strong local leadership, will enable our bankers to continue and enhance service to our customers.”

Currently, BancorpSouth operates 310 full-service branch locations and additional mortgage, insurance, and loan production offices in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. Additional information about the merger is available on BancorpSouth’s website.

Learn more about structuring your company for success in mergers and acquisitions, whether on the buy or sell side. Tune in to #NEXTWINTER21 on Friday, Jan. 22 to hear M&A expert Phil Huff, managing partner of Morningview Advisors, as he shares the wisdom he’s gathered from decades of success leading start-ups and turnarounds through investment, growth and eventual sale to public companies.

Polunsky Beitel Green hires business development expert Mimi Paxson

Residential mortgage specialty law firm Polunsky Beitel Green LLP, (PBG), has named national sales and business development expert Mimi T. Paxson, associate director of business development. She will support NEXT alum Stacey Maisano, the firm’s director of business development, in promoting the firm and its electronic closing solution eClosePlus “built specifically for the mortgage industry,” the company said in a welcoming statement.

Mimi Paxson, associate director of business development at Polunsky Beitel Green LLP

Paxson brings to the role more than 20 years of leadership experience at some of the nation’s top mortgage banking and financial institutions, and a keen understanding of the mortgage industry.

Her vast expertise includes building relationships in business-to-business sales, consumer lending, risk management and fulfillment services.

At Polunsky Beitel Green, she reportedly will leverage her powerful sales techniques to gain market share, drive revenue and deepen client relationships, while focusing on promoting eClosePlus.

“We are pleased that Mimi will be able to contribute her skills to the firm enabling our continued expansion as well as introducing eClosePlus to prospective clients seeking a cost-effective, remote mortgage lending solution,” said Allan Polunsky, Polunsky Beitel Green founder.

Before joining PBG, Paxson served as regional sales director at Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative, where she exponentially grew the business in her territory.

Her career also includes multiple leadership roles at Bank of America, including correspondent lending sales executive connecting with banks and mortgage lenders nationwide, and assistant vice president of quality assurance assisting the development and implementation of CFPB compliant policies and procedures. She has also held sales and client development roles at Equifax Mortgage Services. 

Founded in 1976, San Antonio-based Polunsky Beitel Green is Texas’ oldest and largest mortgage specialty, law firm dedicated to representing residential mortgage originators, according to the company website. Through its proprietary MortgageLaw system, the firm delivers closing packages, as well as full-close services and eClose services in all 50 states.

“The mortgage lending industry is faced with a tremendous opportunity right now,” said Paxson. “It is incumbent upon us to provide the very best services to our clients and help them provide meaningful solutions so borrowers can easily complete their homebuying journey.” 

Orchard expands to four new markets

Home buying marketplace platform Orchard will now offer Move First, a program that enables homeowners to purchase a new house before selling their current home, in Houston. In the coming months the program also will become available in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

Orchard’s footprint will nearly double with the expansion into these four new markets, which include its fourth Texas market. Until now, Orchard provided services in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Denver, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia.

“Orchard was founded to create the most customer-centric way to buy and sell your home. We have since pioneered the ‘buy before you sell’ model with our Move First offering. We’re thrilled to bring Orchard to new markets, where demand has outpaced inventory,” said Court Cunningham, CEO and co-founder of Orchard.

Headquartered in New York City, Orchard offers AI-powered home search and a vertically-integrated platform with Orchard Home Loans, Orchard Title and Orchard Insurance.

Two equity fundraises totaling $105 million reportedly helped Orchard quadruple its year over year growth in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

New features such as Home Match, Photo Switch and Orchard Dashboard — which were introduced in 2020 alongside a suite of digital closing services across mortgage, title, home insurance and home warranty — will support this year’s planned market expansion, the company explained in a statement.

Programs include Offer Boost, which gives homebuyers the option to become cash buyers by using Orchard’s cash to secure their dream home.

With demand at an all-time high, people in hyper-competitive markets “need to make offers—ideally in cash—without contingencies,” explained Cunningham. “Orchard offers buyers in the hottest markets the tools to secure their dream home “for the same cost as a traditional broker.”

Houston is one example, he said. Data show homebuyers face an ultra-competitive market, according to MLS data. The percentage of homes selling above list price has tripled since 2019; and the number of homes going under contract within 30 days of listing has increased by 50%.

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