Two out-of-state regionals announced their intentions to acquire smaller banks in Texas this week, including a Norwest Corp. deal that would take it into one of the state's major metropolitan areas for the first time.
Minneapolis-based Norwest said Tuesday it had agreed to buy Central Bancorp., a $1.1 billion-asset bank in Fort Worth, for an undisclosed sum.
Also Tuesday, BOK Financial Corp., the parent of Bank of Oklahoma, said it plans to acquire Dallas-based Park Cities Bancshares for an undisclosed price. Park Cities, with $220 million in assets, operates two offices of First National Bank of Park Cities.
William Strunk, a Houston-based bank consultant, valued the Norwest deal at $150 million. Others said the price was closer to $170 million, or 2.5 times Central's book value. Although that would be an expensive deal for Norwest, Texas is running out of trophy banks for takeover, observers said.
Peter Wirth, a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods investment banker who represented Central in the deal, called the target bank "one of the jewel franchises (in Texas) because it's so big. This is a bank that to a lot of people would represent a great fit," he said.
Central operates 24 Central Bank and Trust offices, mostly in the Fort Worth area.
Stuart W. Murff, Central's president, said his bank had been approached by a number of other companies. Central chose Norwest because it had no overlapping branches and would be more likely to keep most of Central's 600 employees, he said.
Central, primarily a consumer and small business bank, is more than 50% owned by the family of chairman J. Andy Thompson. It has $900 million in deposits and is the largest independent bank in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
With the addition of Central and three other pending acquisitions in Texas, Norwest would be the fourth-largest bank company in the state with $9.5 billion in Texas assets, said John Stumpf, Norwest regional president in charge of banking in San Antonio.
Norwest also has agreed to acquire Franklin Federal Bancorp of Austin, with $600 million of assets; Texas Bank of Odessa with $160 million of assets; and West Columbia National Bank with $40 million of assets.
Norwest has $78 billion in total assets.
In two and a half years, Mr. Stumpf said, Norwest has built a sizable presence in Texas. Despite the shortage of banks with $1 billion or more in assets, Mr. Stumpf said, Texas has a lot of room for consolidation. "Texas is home to more independent banks than anywhere in the country," he said.
The acquisition is a slight departure from previous Norwest deals in Texas. In the past, Norwest has been adamant about not competing in the major metropolitan areas of Dallas and Houston, saying those markets had been saturated by big competitors, such as NationsBank Corp. and Banc One Corp.
But Mr. Stumpf said Central fits the Norwest mold for its retail strength.
Although Norwest has shied from the Dallas market, BOK Financial has dived right in.
Though no definitive agreement has been signed, the cash deal for Park Cities Bancshares would be the first bank acquisition in Texas for BOK, Oklahoma's largest independent banking company at $4.4 billion in assets. BOK has operated its $300 million-asset subsidiary, Alliance Trust Co., in Dallas since 1992. A definitive agreement is expected in the next couple of weeks.
James White, chief financial officer of BOK, said his company wants to enhance its presence as a regional banking company, and believes it can be a niche player, catering to business and retail customers in an affluent area of Dallas.