Well, that didn't last long.
That must be the reaction of many following Trevor Burgess' sudden departure from Bank of the Ozarks less than a week after the Little Rock, Ark., company bought C1 Financial, where Burgess had been chief executive.
Making the move more shocking is the fact that Bank of the Ozarks had threatened to walk away from the $403 million deal during negotiations unless Burgess stayed. Burgess, who was set to become the $12.3 billion-asset's company's chief innovation officer, would have received $5.7 million had he stayed with Ozarks for just one year.
Burgess told associates he is quitting to spend more time with his family, according to published reports. Efforts to reach him for additional comment were unsuccessful.
Bank of the Ozarks, while admitting in a statement that the departure was "unexpected," moved quickly to fill the void by naming Marcio deOliveira, C1's former chief technology officer, as president of its Innovation Labs Group. (The group had been known as C1 Labs.)
While leaders of selling institutions often leave after a deal closes, Burgess' resignation is surprising, said Ken Thomas, president of Community Development Fund Advisors in Miami and a longtime observer of Florida's banking scene.
Thomas, who had no direct knowledge of the situation, said it is possible that Burgess, as an innovator, may have soured on playing a reduced role at a bigger company. "To assume you can have the same level of freedom – that's not the case," he said.
"You have these tremendous entrepreneurial spirits that can do great things with their own banks," Thomas said, comparing Burgess to Vernon Hill, a restaurant owner and banking iconoclast who built Commerce Bancorp in Cherry Hill, N.J., into a $47 billion-asset regional bank before being forced out in 2007.
Hill bounced back by building Metro Bank, a Commerce look-alike based in London.
If Burgess wants to return to banking, he might have to undertake a similar trek.
Burgess – who was supposed to integrate C1's technology applications across Bank of the Ozarks' sprawling network of 257 branches in nine states – signed a four-year noncompete agreement when the merger agreement was executed, Susan Blair, a company spokeswoman, said.
Burgess, who led a group that bought C1 predecessor Community Bank of Manatee in late 2009, stands to do well financially from the bank's sale. Burgess reported in a February regulatory filing that he owned about 1.3 million C1 shares, which entitled him to 740,000 shares of Bank of the Ozarks' stock. Based on the stock's closing price Wednesday, the shares would be worth about $27 million.
While Burgess, one of American Banker's three community bankers of the year in 2014, will be missed, there is little danger that his departure will derail Ozarks' integration of C1. "Bank of the Ozarks has been in Florida for quite a while and they've done very well here," Thomas said.
Burgess built "an outstanding team of talented associates" who remain at the company, Blair said. Alan Randolph, C1's former chief lending officer, was named president of the company's 44-branch Florida division. DeOliveira, meanwhile, has been working on integration efforts since the banks announced their merger last fall.
"So, it is business as usual for our Florida banking team and customer services," Blair said.