Liberty Bank and Trust acquires Tri-State Bank in Memphis



Tri-State Bank, Memphis’ most prominent black-owned bank, was acquired by New Orleans-based Liberty Bank and Trust Co., the third-largest black-owned bank in the country.

Once the merger is complete, the bank will be the largest black-owned bank in the United States. The cash transaction – at an undisclosed price – ends Friday, the institutions said.

Angel Price, senior vice president of Liberty Bank Memphis, said the acquisition would mean easier access to banking services for customers and borrowers.

“The union of the two banks is really seen as a partnership,” she said in an interview. “Under the Liberty brand, we can grow with access to better technology and a suite of additional products and services to offer to our customers and borrowers. “

One big change is that loan limits for highly qualified borrowers have dropped from $ 1.2 million to $ 5 million, according to a press release.

As of June 30, Tri-State had $ 102 million in deposits and $ 113 million in assets on the books, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. At that time, Liberty had $ 768 million in deposits and $ 121 million in additional assets.

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Tri-State Bank was acquired by Liberty Bank and Trust Co, based in New Orleans.  Tri-State's Elvis Presley Boulevard location is pictured in 2019.

“We are excited about this transaction and Liberty is approaching it as a union,” Price said. “They want to take over the Tri-State Bank mission and have a lot of respect for Tri-State’s legacy in this community. The bank has been a staple in the Memphis community, and they absolutely want to be good stewards of what the bank has done for this community. “

All tri-state employees can keep their jobs under Liberty if they choose, the institutions said.

With the acquisition, Liberty now operates in Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee.

History and mission

Liberty and Tri-State published an announcement on the proposed deal in June. At the time, the deal had been approved by Tri-State’s board of directors but had yet to be approved by shareholders or federal regulators.

Founded in 1946 by insurance executives Joseph E. Walker and Maceo Walker, Tri-State offered banking and loan options to black Americans before and during integration. The bank, oriented around the downtown area, began to struggle in the following decades, as black families moved out of the downtown area or began to do business with larger institutions.

The bank said it lost $ 866,000 last year and went through four management changes from 2016 to 2021.

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In a 2020 report published in Investopedia on the country’s last remaining black-owned banks, the authors said: “In the first 10 years after its founding, the Tri-State Bank of Memphis has granted over $ 10 million. first mortgage loans on homes, representing homeownership for more than 2,000 African-American families. Tri-State has also played a vital role in the civil rights movement, including hosting local sit-ins in the bank’s boardroom, providing sureties for protesters, and providing $ 60,000 in loans to help saving the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, from foreclosure in 1982.

Price said Liberty and Tri-State have parallel missions focused on black communities and community development. Liberty Bank, founded in 1972, has attracted investments of IberiaBank, which merged with First Horizon last year, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

“Their passion reflects our passion,” said Alden J. McDonald Jr., President and CEO of Liberty. “Our missions, to serve our communities as agents of constructive change, are aligned.”

Archie Willis III

“With access to larger credit limits, a broader offering of financial products and services, and the convenience and efficiency of our digital platforms, it is not unrealistic to expect that ‘Liberty Bank Memphis team doubles our bank’s share of the market in short order,’ McDonald said in a statement.

Tri-State Bank chairman Archie Willis III called the deal a “thoughtful combination” and a “win-win.”

“The Memphis market is a natural extension for Liberty Bank. It’s a good fit, ”he said in a statement. “Additionally, the operational expertise and financial strength that Liberty Bank brings to the city enhances our ability to serve our current customers and create new opportunities.”

Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development, health and football for The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached by email at [email protected]


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