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2 Arkansas bank companies to merge

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June 25, 2013 05:25 PM EST | AP

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Home BancShares Inc. says it's buying privately held Liberty Bancshares Inc. of Jonesboro, Ark., creating a $7.1 billion company.

The two companies announced the deal Tuesday and said it will close later this year, following regulatory and shareholder approval. The combined company will have 151 branches and 1,500 employees in Arkansas, Florida and southern Alabama.

Home BancShares is headquartered in Conway, Ark., and is the parent company of Centennial Bank. The merger will double the number of Arkansas branches for Centennial Bank, to 92.

Home said that shareholders of Liberty will receive $250 million of Home BancShares common stock plus $30 million in cash.

Home BancShares rose $1.66, or 7.8 percent, to close at $22.82 amid a broad market rally.