Oct. 25 marked a rare event: A banking company announced three deals in three separate states. Gold Banc Corp. (Nasdaq: GLDB) of Leawood, Kan., is the buyer, planning acquisitions in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Not surprisingly, the target banks are small. Gold Banc itself is small, though it is growing rapidly via an aggressive supercommunity banking strategy built around piecing together a network of small banks in diverse markets. And Gold Banc officials aren't timid about their goal--to create "America's premier community banking and financial services company."

Including other previously announced acquisitions, these deals will boost Gold Banc's assets to approximately $2.75 billion, from $1.28 billion on Sept. 30, and its core deposits to more than $2.4 billion, from $967 million. Gold Banc paid between 2.15 and 2.5 times the target's total equity, using its stock for two deals and a combination of cash and stock for the third.

By far the largest of the proposed deals involves CountryBanc of Edmond, Okla., near Oklahoma City. The bank, with $530 million in assets, operates under the name People First Bank in 17 communities to the north and west of Oklahoma City. Next largest is First Business Bank of Kansas City, the banking subsidiary of First Business Bancshares of Kansas City, with $125 million in assets. Opened in 1988, the bank serves a strong small business market, Gold Banc says.

The smallest deal is for Linn County Bank, which claims to be the oldest established community bank in Kansas. Linn County, with total assets of more than $53 million, is in rapidly growing Lenexa, Kan. Gold Banc plans to pay both cash and stock for the institution.

"We are excited about all three of these acquisitions," said Gold Banc chief executive Michael Gullion in an announcement. "We are solidifying Gold's community banking franchise in Kansas and Oklahoma, where we have already established a significant customer base, and have positioned ourselves to move more forcefully into Missouri. We are also expanding our cross-selling opportunity for Gold's full range of financial services, including investments, insurance, mortgage, trust and international services.'' Gold Banc currently has locations in 16 communities. With these acquisitions, along with the purchase of Union Bank of Denver, Colo., and American Bank of Bradenton, Fla., both announced earlier this year, Gold Banc's presence will virtually triple to 47 communities.

Gold Banc is too small to attract much analyst attention, but the three companies that follow it all rate it a "strong buy." Diversity surely makes it more attractive: Gold Banc owns and operates a Midwest broker/dealer and investment firm, a trust company and a firm specializing in personal and business insurance. Its strategy is to sell those diversified services through a community banking platform--which makes it likely that it will be adding more locations in the not-too-distant future.

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