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Great Southern to sell Omaha branches

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Springfield-based Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) is parting ways with its branches in the Omaha, Nebraska, metropolitan area.

The operator of Great Southern Bank agreed to sell its deposit accounts and four branches in the market to Lincoln, Nebraska-based West Gate Bank, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Great Southern Director of Retail Banking Kris Conley this morning said West Gate Bank President, CEO and Chairman Carl Sjulin approached the Springfield company about the purchase. Conley initially rejected the offer but was later contacted again, when Sjulin said the company hired several executives to put down roots in the Omaha market but didn’t have a place for them to work.

“It just came to the point where we couldn’t turn down the offer,”  Conley said, noting the existing 19 Great Southern employees in the market would stay on through the transition. “It was best for the company. It was best for the shareholders.”

Great Southern expects to realize an estimated pretax gain of $6.5 million to $7 million from the transaction slated to close in July. The sale includes roughly $58 million in deposits, as well as “substantially all” the branches’ real estate, fixed assets and ATMs, according to the SEC filing.

West Gate Bank will take control of two Omaha branches, as well as a location each in Bellevue and Calhoun, Nebraska. Great Southern plans to maintain a commercial loan office in the Omaha market. Conley said Great Southern purchased three of the branches via the 2009 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-assisted buyout of Paola, Kansas-based TeamBank N.A. He said the fourth branch in the Omaha market was launched from scratch.

Great Southern officials estimate the transaction will drop the company’s annual noninterest income by $300,000 to $500,000, decrease noninterest expenses by $1.1 million to $1.2 million and increase interest expenses by $300,000 to $500,000, according to the filing.

West Gate bank currently operates seven branches. Its assets as of Dec. 31, 2016, were $489.4 million and deposits were $421.3 million, according to its website.

GSBC shares were trading at $51.35 as of 8:45 a.m., compared with a 52-week range of $47.25 to $58.45.

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