This week, the Marietta-based bank announced its plans to merge with Midtown Bank and Trust Company, 712 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta. Midtown Bank has one branch in Atlanta and plans to open a second location in Sandy Springs next month.
The merger, which is expected to be finalized in the third quarter of this year, will create the 10th largest community bank — measured by its assets — headquartered in the metro Atlanta area. First Landmark will acquire Midtown Bank through the merger, but all three branches will operate under their existing names.
Ron Francis, chairman of the First Landmark Bank board, called the merger a “great union” because the two institutions are similar in size and culture.
First Landmark Bank, which was formed by Francis in 2008, has 30 employees and $211 million in assets, loans of $131 million, deposits of $176 million and equity of $23.8 million. Midtown Bank, which opened in 2003, has 48 employees and about $200 million in assets, loans of $133 million, deposits of $159 million and equity of $20.4 million. The combined company will have $411 million in assets.
No positions are expected to be eliminated.
“We really see it as an opportunity to merge two equally strong banks,” said Terrence DeWitt, president and CEO of First Landmark.
Once the merger is finalized, Stanley Kryder, president and CEO of Midtown Bank, will serve as president and CEO of the combined bank, and DeWitt will be its executive vice president and chief financial officer. The board of directors will be made of six members from First Landmark and five from Midtown Bank. Francis will chair the new board and Joseph D. Chipman, current chairman of the Midtown Bank board, will be its vice chairman.
Merger makes meeting regulations easier, offers more services
The merger allows the banks to more easily conform to tight regulations and reduce expenses associated with cutting through government red tape, DeWitt said. The new bank will have more revenue at its disposal to spend on meeting regulations, but can use existing employees to oversee compliance.
“We feel like we can turn two plus two into six,” DeWitt said.
Francis said community bank consolidations are becoming a trend following the Great Recession.
“I think you’re going to see more and more of these type things,” Francis said.
Both banks are strong members of their local communities, Kryder said, and will continue that civic involvement.
“Our people live there, they work there, they are truly part of each of our communities. Each of our banks are locally owned. Our shareholders are local businesspeople,” Kryder said.
Each institution has its own strengths, Kryder said, like Midtown Bank’s expertise in small business lending and residential mortgages. First Landmark is primarily a business lender.
Banks ‘survivors’ of recession
A national spotlight was cast on the metro Atlanta area following the Great Recession, when several banks closed their doors. Georgia led the nation in bank closures during the economic downturn with 84 banks having closed by 2013.
“Atlanta had been really a focal point of bank failures throughout the country,” Kryder said.
The merger is a “light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, and enables two local banks to remain healthy and efficient.
“We think this is the beginning of a very positive trend for Atlanta and for community banking,” Kryder said.
The two banks have confidence to invest in one another, which Kryder said is a sign of a recovering economy.
First Landmark was lucky not to experience the problems many other financial institutions were challenged by, DeWitt said, because it opened in 2008, when the economic downturn was just beginning.
Still, the bank wasn’t immune to the recession, and DeWitt called the two institutions “survivors.”
“The financial downturn has impacted the way we envisioned growing initially,” DeWitt said.