News Column

First Bank to acquire 4 Bank of America branches

February 27, 2014

By Gary Demuth, The Salina Journal, Kan.



Feb. 27--First Bank Kansas has entered into an agreement to assume the deposits and acquire certain assets of Bank of America branches in Salina, Lindsborg, McPherson and Hutchinson.

Both banking corporations are working to ensure a smooth transition for Bank of America customers and employees, First Bank Kansas officials stated in a press release issued Wednesday.

Subject to regulatory approval, the transition is expected to be completed by mid-July.

Bank of America has one location in Salina, at the Central Mall, and an ATM machine at Elmore Center, on East Crawford. First Bank Kansas intends to retain both, as well as the employees working at the Central Mall location, said Angie Eilrich, executive vice president and chief operations officer for First Bank Kansas, 235 S. Santa Fe.

"Our intention is to retain all the employees at all the locations," she said. "We're confident all the people who work there will fit in well with First Bank Kansas."

A Bank of America branch in downtown Salina, at 138 N. Santa Fe, was closed in spring 2013.

A privately held bank

First Bank Kansas is a privately owned community bank founded in 1961 and purchased by the John Sutherland family in 1983. The Sutherland family now has banks in Salina, Emporia, Hoisington and Parsons, and branches in Chanute, Erie, Independence, Oswego, Ellsworth, McPherson, Abilene, Claflin and Great Bend.

The Sutherland group will acquire 10 Bank of America branches, of which four will go to First Bank Kansas. This will increase First Bank Kansas' total assets to about $410 million.

In addition to the Bank of America branch at the Central Mall, First Bank Kansas will acquire a branch each in Lindsborg, McPherson and Hutchinson. Bank of America branches in Hays and Great Bend will be acquired by First Bank Kansas' sister bank, First Kansas Bank of Hoisington, Eilrich said.

"Bank of America has been great to work with, and we're excited about this opportunity," she said.

A seamless transition

Customers whose accounts will be transferring to First Bank Kansas do not need to do anything with their accounts at this time. They will be contacted well in advance of any changes, Eilrich said.

"Our intention is to make this transition as seamless as possible for Bank of America customers," she said. "Our plan is to make sure they have everything they need ahead of the merger so they can go on with their business as usual."

In a statement, First Bank Kansas president Kent Buer said the expansion and growth of First Bank Kansas will "allow First Bank Kansas to better serve the communities in which our customers live and work, as well as expansion opportunities in new areas of Kansas."

Eilrich is confident Bank of America customers will find that First Bank Kansas will fulfill their banking needs.

What customers like

"We have some of the same technology, and we're still small enough that we can have a more hands-on approach to customer service," she said. "Once we dig in, we'll find out what our new customers are used to and what they like."

-- Reporter Gary Demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by email at gdemuth@salina.com.

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(c)2014 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.)

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Source: Salina Journal (KS)


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