Simmons First National (SFNC) in Pine Bluff, Ark., has outlined a succession plan as it readies for the retirement of its chairman and chief executive, J. Thomas May.

George Makris, a longtime director, will take over for May, who will retire on Dec. 31, 2013, the $3.4 billion-asset company said Tuesday. Prior to this, Makris will serve in the newly created position of CEO-elect starting Jan. 1.

Makris has served on the company's board for 15 years. He is currently chairman of the Economic Development Corporation of Jefferson County and also a director of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Simmons First also announced a series of other executive moves at the holding company and its Simmons First National Bank. David Bartlett will continue as president and assume the additional title of chief banking officer at Jan. 1. He will also join the board in January. Bartlett has been in banking for 35 years and joined Simmons First in 2004 when it acquired the bank he had organized.

Bob Fehlman will continue as chief financial officer and will become corporate treasurer.

Marty Casteel, an executive vice president of the holding company and bank, will assume the additional titles of chairman and CEO of the bank while continuing with his current administrative duties.

Craig Hunt, an executive vice president of the bank, has been promoted to president of the bank and will take on the job as chief credit officer.

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