First United Bancshares, El Dorado, Ark., is planning to acquire community banks in Louisiana and Arkansas.

First United, with $1.9 billion of assets, has signed agreements to purchase First Republic Bancshares of Rayville, La., for roughly $32 million in stock and Citizens National Bancshares of Hope, Ark., for an undisclosed sum. Both deals are expected to close in March.

"Citizens is attractive because it brings strong management to the company," said John E. Burns, chief financial officer at First United, the parent of First National Bank. "First Republic brings diversity to the company because it is located in good growth area of Louisiana."

Citizens, with six branches and $238 million of assets, is the parent company of Citizens National Bank and People's Bank and Loan Co. of Lewisville. First Republic has $149 million of assets in six Louisiana branches.

Under terms of the agreements, management would be retained at both Citizens National and First Republic, and both banks would keep their names.

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