Another community bank takeover

|By:, SA News Editor

Chalk up another deal in the "trade of a decade" after last week's agreement for HomeTrust Bancshares (HTBI) to buy Jefferson Bancshares (JFBI) for $4 per share in cash plus $4 of HomeTrust common stock.

The current regulatory and economic climate makes it about impossible for these smaller operations to grow earnings fast enough - activist investors have noticed and can be found all over the sector.

Jefferson is a typical specimen, with 10 branches, two limited service locations and just over $500M in assets. Hurt by the financial crisis, the nonperforming asset ratio climbed to nearly 5% in 2012, a number management had recently whittled down to 3.81%. Enter long-time bank activist investor Joseph Stillwell with more than 6% of the stock and threatening a board fight if a sale didn't happen soon.

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