Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
Bank officials made a surprise announcement on Wednesday afternoon as Orange Saving Bank will merge with one of the nation’s leading financial institutions later this year.
Stephen Lee, president and CEO of Orange Savings Bank, announced during a press conference Wednesday that the local financial institution would merge with First Financial Bankshares, Inc. The merger is expected to be complete during the second quarter of 2013 and the official name change should occur later in the year.
“With this merger we will be able to offer our customers so much more tomorrow than we can today,” Lee said. “Our customers can expect much better products and services, including state-of-the-art technology like Picture Pay. We’re very excited about this.”
F. Scott Dueser, chairman, president and CEO of First Financial Bankshares, Inc., which is based in Abilene, Texas, was equally excited and positive about the merger and the future.
“Orange Savings Bank is a great bank with a rich history,” Dueser said. “It’s the who’s who of banks in this area. Orange Savings Bank is known for its outstanding customer service and its commitment to the community. We’re just going to help them do a better job of what they are already doing.”
First Financial Bankshares, Inc. is a publicly traded company on NASDAQ. It reported earnings of $18.32 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, a increase of 4.88 percent compared to the same time period in 2011. Net income for the year increased 8.57 percent from 2011 as well.
First Financial Bankshares has a proud 122-year history in the banking industry. It is a $4.5 billion financial holding company and its group of financial institutions spans much of the state with Southeast Texas becoming part of that makeup.
“This is our 12th regional bank, and it becomes the second largest bank in our company,” Dueser added. “Orange has great people, amenities and the economy here is good. We are delighted to be part of that.”
First Financial Bankshares, Inc. has acquired institutions and now operates locations in the Texas communities of Sweetwater, Cleburne, Stephenville, Roby, San Angelo, Weatherford, Granbury, Mineral Wells, Clyde, Bridgeport and Huntsville.
First Financial Bankshares, Inc. has also had its success over the past several years well documented.
According to Bank Director Magazine, First Financial Bankshares has placed either No. 1 or No. 2 each year for the past four years in its “Nifty 50,” which is based on return on equity and average tangible equity.
Lee said First Financial Bankshares success is what attracted him to the idea of the merger.
“They are building the kind of bank that I’ve wanted to build, but they were doing it 25 years ahead of me,” he explained. “Very few banks operate the model that First Financial does. They allow regional boards and management to run their banks and continue to do the things they do well. That’s important to me.”
Lee said the merger will not impact employees or its Board of Directors either.
“Our board, management and employees are staying put,” he said. “We are not losing our local autonomy.”
Wednesday’s announcement of the merger was not only big news for the bank and the community but a very close and personal matter for Tommy Gunn, local attorney and Orange Savings Bank’s Chairman of the Board.
“My grand-dad was one of the original board members back when it was known as Orange Savings and Loan,” Gunn explained. “This merger was important to us because we were seeking a partnership with someone who has the same outlook and commitment to the community that we’ve had for 55 years and we’ve found it.
“That commitment will continue,” he continued. “The merger will just enhance the services we already have and increase our ability to provide those services now and in the future.”