Just over 15 months after it was announced a more than two-decade-old Bolivar financial fixture would soon come under new ownership, the official word has come down that it’s a done deal.
Missouri-based Stark Bancshares Inc. announced Thursday via a news release that it has received regulatory approval and completed the purchase of Bolivar-based Farmers State Bank, effective immediately.
According to the stock purchase agreement, announced Feb. 28, 2018, Stark was set to acquire 100% of the bank’s parent holding company, Farmers Financial Corp.
The release said the bank, which has a footprint in five locations in four area communities, will continue operating as an “independent community bank under its current brand, Farmers State Bank.”
Thane Kifer will remain at the helm as president and a member of the bank’s board of directors, the release said. In addition, John Kallenbach and Jim Hacker will continue to serve on the board.
“We are pleased to be able to acquire Farmers State Bank,” Stark Bancshares chair Brandon Fabris said in the release. “It is important to us to make sure Farmers State Bank continues to operate independently, and the continuity of the local leadership will help us accomplish that goal.”
Fabris added FSB customers “can be assured that it is business as usual.” At the same time, he said, the new ownership is “committed to providing the resources to grow the bank while also providing additional job opportunities in the community.”
“This is a good fit for us and our plans for future growth, and it will allow the bank to expand its service offerings to its customers and to the communities it serves,” he said. “Customers can expect new state-of-the-art technology, new products and greater convenience to do their banking in the months to come as a result of this transaction.”
In the release, Kifer also said there is much to look ahead to.
“It is evident to me this opportunity will enhance our ability to provide elevated banking options for our existing and future customers,” he said.
He said he anticipates a “smooth transition” for both customers and employees.
“We have a long and rich history of community involvement and personalized customer service that will continue in the future,” he added.
And the purchase, he said, is unique.
“While most bank acquisitions result in the acquired bank becoming simply a branch location of a larger institution, Farmers State Bank will remain a fully chartered, independent bank, just as it has been since 1910,” he said.
That history began with the bank’s founding in Schell City. Then, in 1996, it was purchased by the late Bolivar banking legend Joe Rayl.
The following year, Rayl expanded FSB to include a Bolivar location at 114 E. Jackson St. on the south side of the square.
In 1999, a second Bolivar location was added with the completion of the Rayl Financial Center at 1630 S. Killingsworth Ave. Six years later, the downtown Bolivar branch was relocated to its current location at 111 W. Jackson St.
During those years, the bank added two additional branches in Galmey and Pittsburg.
And today, it has grown into an institution with more than $68.8 million in total assets as of March, the release said.
“I encourage anyone in the community with questions to feel free to contact me,” Kifer said. “This is a positive thing for our customers and the communities served by Farmers State Bank.”