Gibson City bank agrees to be sold to Longview group

Gibson City bank agrees to be sold to Longview group

GIBSON CITY – The Bank of Gibson City has agreed to be sold to John Albin's banking group, subject to approval by shareholders and regulators.

Directors of the bank's parent company, BGC Bancorp, recently agreed to sell the company to Newman-based Longview Capital Corp., which has four banks serving 10 communities south and east of Champaign-Urbana.

The value of the proposed all-cash deal was not disclosed.

Albin, president of Longview Capital Corp., said the Gibson City bank fits his company's profile of banks serving agriculture and rural communities. He said he expects the bank to continue operating pretty much as is if the deal is approved.

"We've bought the bank and told the personnel that they stay," he said. "We have to have approval from the state of Illinois and the Federal Reserve. That will take about two months. It will probably be the last half of December (when the sale is approved)."

The Bank of Gibson City has $61.5 million in assets.

Longview Capital Corp. is more than three times that size, with assets of $210 million. Its banks in Ogden and Chrisman are roughly the same size as the Gibson City bank, with assets of about $70 million and $60 million, respectively, Albin said.

Founded in 1979, the Bank of Gibson City has 15 employees, about 200 shareholders and $7 million in capital.

Shareholders are scheduled to vote on the transaction Nov. 13, according to George Tjardes, chairman of the board of the Bank of Gibson City.

Albin explained how the deal came about.

"The people who founded that bank 30 years ago were on the board (of directors) and were getting to retirement age. They wanted some time off. They were looking for someone who would buy the bank and keep it the Bank of Gibson City," he said.

Tjardes agreed keeping the bank's identity was a key consideration.

"We had an opportunity to sell and keep our charter and keep our name and keep the employees in place," he said. "The bank that's going to buy us out is in small communities like we are. They're very community-oriented, and we thought it was a fit."

Tjardes said the board hadn't been working actively to sell the bank, but met with one other prospective buyer and that negotiation fell through. It took only one Saturday morning meeting with Albin to realize there was a meeting of minds, Tjardes said.

Longview Capital Corp. owns four other banks:

– Longview State Bank, based in Sidney, with branches in Camargo, Newman and Villa Grove.

– First National Bank of Ogden, which has branch facilities in Royal and St. Joseph.

– State Bank of Chrisman, which also has a facility in Paris.

– First National Bank in Georgetown.

"We operate on a conservative basis," Albin said. "We buy a bank every five, 10 years, then get our financial structure together, get them paid for and then we look for another one."

Longview Capital Corp.'s holdings also include two subsidiaries: Newman-based Illini Community Development Corp. and Danville-based Midwest AgriCredit Co.

Albin said the Gibson City bank would make an excellent addition to Longview's holdings.

"We will work to expand the bank's services to farmers and agri-business customers as well as local and area consumers and depositors," Albin said. "Our focus is on building rural Illinois and the communities served by our financial institutions."

Gibson City has two other banks: a branch of Urbana-based Busey Bank and a branch of Bloomington-based Heartland Bank & Trust Co.

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