Regions Financial Corp.'s acquisition of the Arkansas agency Rebsamen Insurance Inc. brings the Alabama banking company into the property-casualty business in a state where it can see itself buying other insurance agencies.
Regions has a large market share in Arkansas and is open to deals in all states where it has banking branches.
Ronald C. Jackson, senior vice president and director of investor relations for $43.7 billion-asset Regions, said in an interview, "There are always opportunities out there," though any buyouts "would have to fit strategically, and pricewise and culturally."
He said Rebsamen is that match, though he did not give the purchase price. The Little Rock agency, which also has offices in Springdale and Fort Smith in Arkansas as well as in Springfield, Mo., is "a natural fit with our continuing strategy of becoming a more diversified financial services organization," he said.
One way the multiline Rebsamen is a good fit is that it is primarily a commercial lines agency: 70% of its business comes from business customers.
"Middle-market, small-business customers - that's really the heart of Regions' franchise," Mr. Jackson said.
Regions, of Birmingham, announced its completion of the Rebsamen purchase Feb. 8 and expects to close its $789 million buyout of the Memphis independent investment firm Morgan Keegan this quarter. That deal was originally announced in mid-December.
Mr. Jackson said his company liked Rebsamen because it is a "sizable agency that could jump-start us" in property-casualty. Regions already sells some credit and life insurance.
Rebsamen had revenue of more than $26 million last year. That makes it the country's sixth-largest bank-owned insurance agency, according to Marsh, Berry & Co. Inc., a Concord, Ohio, consulting firm specializing in mergers of banks and insurance agencies.
Regions, which has more than 700 branches in eight southern states, has no plan at this time to sell property-casualty insurance in the branches, Mr. Jackson said. Instead, cross-selling will be done through referrals between commercial bankers and the insurance agents, he said.
Gary B. Townsend, an analyst with Friedman Billings Ramsey, said Regions' deals for Rebsamen and Morgan Keegan "would seem consistent with the general idea of broadening product offerings."
The agency is retaining its name, and its president and chief executive officer, Allen J. McDowell, retains those titles.