orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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March 8, 2013

Merger to create one of the largest independent banks in Houston

Houston — While much of the banking world finds itself still reeling from the political, economic and consumer confidence fall-out of the Great Recession, two privately held Texas banks are emerging from the financial storm as key players in the Houston market and are giving the regional and national money-center banks a run for their money.

Thursday, the holding companies for CommunityBank of Texas (CBFH, Inc.) and Vista Bank Texas (VB Texas, Inc.) announced the two banks have formed a strategic partnership and will merge to create one of the largest independent banks in Houston.  Striking a partnership between the two strong Texas bank franchises takes advantage of both organizations’ strengths and allows for great synergies according to Robert Franklin, Jr., chairman and CEO of Vista Bank Texas.

“What has become even more obvious to our markets over the last five years is that it’s the independent banks that are propelling growth,” Franklin said.  “Our successful relationship-driven community banking model will provide us with a competitive edge in Houston’s burgeoning economy and bring extensive capital resources that can be dedicated to this growing market.”

Both banks opened their doors at the start of the economic downturn, but thrived while other banks floundered.  CommunityBank of Texas opened its doors with just $140 million in assets in 2007.  In less than 18 months, the bank’s assets had grown to more than $1 billion with a new branch opening almost every 60 days.  Today, CommunityBank reports assets of $1.7 billion.

“The merger will have no effect on customers in the Orange area,” J. Pat Parsons, chairman and CEO of CommunityBank of Texas said. “We will still be CommunityBank of Texas.”

Vista Bank Texas opened in 2006 with just over $60 million in assets.  Through targeted growth, Vista now has seven Houston-area branches and assets in excess of $606 million.

“These are two independent powerhouses coming together to fill a hole in the Houston banking market,” Parsons said.  “Big corporate banks simply aren’t flexible or nimble enough to work with customers on a personal level anymore.  We saw an opportunity and seized it.  With the combined resources and strengths of two extremely well-capitalized institutions behind us, we are able to significantly increase commercial lending dollars available to the Houston community and across Southeast Texas.”

CommunityBank of Texas Senior Chairman Walter Umphrey noted that once the merger is complete, the newly formed bank will exceed $2.3 billion in assets.

In addition to being appointed to the boards of both CommunityBank of Texas and CBFH, Inc., Franklin will serve as Co-CEO with Parsons, a move that strengthens the management team.  Pending shareholder and regulatory approvals, the merger between CommunityBank of Texas and Vista Bank Texas is expected to be finalized by the end of third quarter 2013, although delays may occur.   

Parsons also said CommunityBank is always looking for opportunities to expand.

VB Texas, Inc. received legal advice from Bracewell & Giuliani LLP while Macquarie Capital (USA), Inc. provided a fairness opinion to its Board of Directors. CBFH, Inc. received legal advice from Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan LLP, while Performance Trust Capital Partners, LLC provided a fairness opinion to its Board of Directors.

There are two CommunityBank of Texas locations in Orange, 3300 Edgar Brown Drive and 43427 Texas 87.

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