Worried its next deal — if it comes too soon — might turn into the proverbial "one too many," Prosperity Bancshares (PB) in Houston plans to slow its aggressive acquisitions engine.

"I don't see us jumping into a new deal," Chairman and Chief Executive David Zalman said in a conference call Tuesday. "In the past, we've done 30-something transactions and they've all been good, but you do one bad one and that could ruin everything."

Another good reason to slow down: "My wife is going to divorce me if we do any more," Zalman says.

Seriously, folks, talk of a dealmaking hiatus by Prosperity is pretty big news. The $16 billion-asset company has long followed a grow-by-acquisitions strategy, but even by its standards, the past two years have been busy. Prosperity has announced eight deals in that span, including its latest trophy, the $2.4 billion-asset F&M Bancorp. of Tulsa.

Prosperity said Tuesday it would purchase F&M for $47million in cash and 3.3 million shares of stock, about $244 million in all. The announcement follows hard on the heels of Prosperity's $380 million deal for FVNB Corp. in Victoria, Texas, on July 1.

Zalman did not absolutely rule out another deal, but with two big acquisitions on its plate, the idea of taking a breather only makes sense, he says. "We'll be pretty busy with FVNB and F&M and the operational integration of both. …This is really going to take some time," he says. "The focus now is to back off and work on operational integration."

Prosperity expects to close its deal for the $2.4 billion-asset FVNB in November and begin the integration in the fourth quarter. It has set a date of March 31 to close on its acquisition of F&M, so integration would not begin until the second quarter of 2014. Thus, if things play out as Zalman indicates, it might be nine or ten months before Prosperity leaves the sidelines.

Prosperity could probably handle another deal, says Brad Milsaps, an analyst with Sandler O'Neill. It has what he termed a "phenomenal" track record integrating its deals.

Yet Zalman's inclination to slow down "seems reasonable," Milsaps says. "They're going from just under $11 billion of assets at the end of 2011 to a projected $22 billion in the first quarter of 2014."

Actually, Prosperity had every intention of starting its breather after striking the FVNB deal, until a phone call changed its plans. A day or so after news of the purchase broke, Zalman says he received a phone call from F&M Chairman and Chief Executive Anthony Davis, expressing interest in a possible combination.

There is a history between the companies. They discussed a deal about 10 years ago, but Prosperity backed away because F&M's concentration in commercial and industrial lending clashed with its more conservative credit culture. A lot had changed since then. Prosperity has entered the Oklahoma market with its purchase of $1.3 billion-asset Coppermark Bancshares in Oklahoma City in April, and is eager to add to its Sooner State market share.

"This fit our need with the Oklahoma market," Zalman says. "I always said we wouldn't go there just to do one deal. …We weren't going to get another opportunity [like this] to build our Oklahoma franchise."

Davis did not return a call seeking comment.

Its deal for F&M would give Prosperity a presence in Oklahoma's two largest cities, as well as make it the seventh-largest bank in the state, with deposits of $2.9 billion.

Moreover, the companies' lending policies have moved a long way toward convergence as Prosperity has grown. It is now more comfortable with F&M's C&I portfolio — even if the loan book includes more shared national credits and loan participations than Prosperity would have made on its own.

"Will we consider some of the types of deals that F&M is doing? The answer is probably yes," Zalman says. "They participate a lot more in shared national credits. Our appetite for that has not been as strong, but as we've grown, we've looked at them more. … I always said we would never take a shared national credit, but we have two on the books now."

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