Home BancShares in Ark. making bigger push into marine lending

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Home BancShares in Conway, Ark., seems content with the marine lending business it bought two years ago.

The $15 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that it will expand the business with an agreement to buy LH-Finance from People’s United Financial in Bridgeport, Conn. The deal, which includes about $405 million in loans, is expected to close this quarter.

Home will pay a 3% premium on LH-Finance's loans, Brady Gailey, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, wrote in a note to clients.

Home will have more than $900 million in marine loans on its books when the deal closes. Home’s Shore Premier Finance division, which the company bought from Union Bankshares in 2018, has a national platform that makes floor plan and retail loans.

Home BancShares has been an aggressive acquirer under the leadership of CEO Johnny Allison.

“The excitement and enthusiasm from manufacturers and dealers is very contagious,” Johnny Allison, Home’s chairman, president and CEO, said in the release, adding that his team had just attended the Miami boat show. “Looks like perfect timing.”

Home said it plans to open a loan production office in Baltimore in connection with the acquisition.

"LH-Finance was a direct competitor of Shore's, so this acquisition eliminates a competitor while strengthening Home's position in the marine finance space," Gailey wrote in his client note.

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