Ending five weeks of speculation, $424 million-asset CNBT Bancshares of Houston has agreed to sell itself to BOK Financial Corp. of Tulsa, which owns $1.2 billion-asset Bank of Texas in Dallas.

The price was not disclosed. BOK's largest subsidiary is $6.84 billion-asset Bank of Oklahoma, but Stan Lybarger, president and chief executive officer of the $8.93 billion-asset company, said Texas will account for most of its future growth.

"Our game plan is to concentrate on high-growth metropolitan areas," Mr. Lybarger said. "Right now we will focus on Dallas and Houston, but eventually we will look at expanding into other areas."

CNBT Bancshares is the corporate parent of Citizens National Bank of Texas. Mr. Lybarger said that Citizens National's six branches would become Bank of Texas branches when the merger closes in the first quarter of 2001.

B. Ralph Williams, president and chief executive officer of CNBT Bancshares, will manage Bank of Texas' Houston operations. Other members of CNBT's management team have also agreed to remain.

On July 14 Mr. Williams disclosed that CNBT had retained Alex Sheshunoff & Co. of Austin, Texas, to help it explore its merger-and-acquisition options. He said the analysis identified Bank of Texas as the clear first choice. That announcement touched off a guessing game that ended Monday, with news of CNBT's merger with BOK.

"We looked at a number of holding companies," said Mr. Williams. "We are confident this is the best possible move for our customers, shareholders, and employees, and that they will benefit for many years to come."

Over the past 15 months BOK has acquired three other community banking companies in Texas, all in the Dallas area: Chaparral Bancshares, which owned Canyon Creek National Bank; Mid-Cities Bancshares, which owned Mid-Cities National Bank; and Swiss Avenue State Bank. CNBT is BOK's biggest Texas deal to date, but Mr. Lybarger said BOK remains in the market for more deals. "We will continue to be on the lookout for good opportunities in Houston," he said.

BOK also owns Bank of Albuquerque in New Mexico and Bank of Arkansas in Fayetteville.


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