Letter to shareholders
Looking back, 2021 was an outstanding year for Simmons. First, and foremost, we delivered record earnings while continuing to navigate the operational challenges associated with the pandemic and the artificial economy created over the past two years. After adjusting to work from home and virtual meetings, we finally were able to return to the office in June after implementing the necessary precautions to ensure the health and well-being of our associates. We all welcomed the opportunity to regain some sense of normalcy in our lives and the chance to meet face-to-face rather than staring at them on a screen day-after-day.
While we continue to adjust to life during the pandemic, our support of small businesses continued with our participation in Phase II of the Paycheck Protection Program. Combined with our efforts during Phase I, Simmons extended approximately $1.3 billion under the program representing more than 13,400 loans to assist our small business customers.
The year also brought a resumption to M&A activity, which had been on pause due to the pandemic. In June we announced the acquisitions of Landmark Community Bank and Triumph Bancshares, Inc. The opportunity to combine forces with these two successful community banks highly complemented our existing footprint in Tennessee and enhanced our scale in two of our key growth markets – Memphis and Nashville. Closing, conversion and integration of both banks was completed in four months. Conversion of a single bank is no small task, and the fact that our team simultaneously converted both banks over the same weekend symbolizes our cultural cornerstone of "High Performance."
Shortly after, we announced the acquisition of $3.3 billion asset Spirit of Texas Bancshares, Inc. Strengthening our Texas franchise has been a strategic priority and to partner with Spirit will double our size in the Lone Star State, while also establishing a platform for growth in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and College Station. These markets have been among the fastest growing in the nation and projections call for this trend to continue. Completion of merger is expected to close in April and we look forward to welcoming Spirit's shareholders, customers and our newest associates to the Simmons family.
Before closing this letter, I’d be remiss without acknowledging the recent passing of Dean Chambliss and Lara Hunt III. Both Dean and Lara served as Simmons Bank board members, lending their expertise, insight and counsel to further the success of our organization. We are grateful for their contributions and service but, most of all, we will miss their friendship.
As we begin a new year recognizing concerns around inflation, interest rates and the conflict overseas, we face these challenges from a position of strength. Our capital and liquidity positions are amongst their highest levels in our history, our commitment to maintaining strong underwriting standards is unwavering and we have assembled an outstanding team ready to face any challenge head-on. As such, we believe we are well-positioned throughout our footprint to capture growth opportunities that will lead to another successful year.
As always, we thank you, our shareholders and customers, for your continued interest and support.
George A. Makris, Jr
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Simmons First National Corporation