Friday, February 03, 2012

TOP STORY >> First Arkansas obtains credit card business

First Arkansas Bank and Trust became the full owner of an Atlanta-based credit card company on Wednesday. With the acquisition of BV Card Assets, the bank will begin offering its customers credit cards by spring.

First Arkansas owned 18 percent of BV Card Assets before this week’s deal. The Arkansas Bank Department approved the sale on Monday.

The bank did not disclose the sale price.

Larry Wilson, First Arkansas’ chairman and chief executive officer, told The Leader on Friday that the bank has “no plans to move the operation.”

He added, “Rates will be competitive. We will have very attractive card graphics. We will have specifics later.”

First Arkansas will retain BV Card Assets’ management team and keep its headquarters in Atlanta, where about 40 people are employed.

First Arkansas Bank and its previous partners, BancVue of Austin, Texas, and Virtual Point Management of Atlanta, bought the credit card company in September 2010 from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which took over the company from Silverton Bank in 2008.

“We are very excited about becoming the sole owner of this credit card portfolio,” Wilson said.

“The portfolio has performed extremely well for many years and has been a consistent revenue producer during that time. It is a conservative portfolio with an outstanding balance of approximately $115 million and has approximately 80,000 active cardholders,” he explained.

“Those cardholders, both individuals and small businesses, are spread geographically across the country, but the majority of them are in the southeastern United States,” Wilson said.

“This is a great opportunity to utilize some of our excess capital, and we are pleased that we were able to work with our partners, BancVue of Austin, Texas, and Virtual Point Management of Atlanta to purchase their stock in the company.

“We are confident that there is a great opportunity for growth in credit card programs in community banks across the country,” he added.

“We fully intend to tap this market and grow this portfolio over time,” Wilson said.

First Arkansas has 23 locations in central Arkansas. The family-owned bank, in business for more than 60 years, has $650 million in total assets.