Premier Bank to turn two midtown branches into one

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Posted: Monday, November 4, 2013 12:00 am

Premier Bank is planning to build a new midtown branch on Dodge Street and, two years after taking over for the failed Mid City Bank, has attracted new investment.

The Omaha-based operator of four metro-area branches plans to consolidate the offices at 42nd and Farnam Streets and at Saddle Creek Road and Dodge Street into one new location at 43rd and Dodge. Construction is to begin late this year, with occupancy slated for next year.

The bank also said it has received a new investment from Omaha-based Waitt Co., a privately held investment firm that owns stakes in sporting goods maker Prince Global Sports and others. The amount of the new investment was not disclosed and was offered by Waitt, not solicited by the bank, the companies said.

Premier Bank, formed by longtime Nebraska banker Greg Stine, acquired Omaha's Mid City Bank in 2011, after the institution was found to be insolvent and was shuttered by the Nebraska Banking Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Mid City was burned by bad real-estate loans, with capital falling from $41.3 million in 2007 to less than $1 million at the end. Mid City Bank was seized by regulators in November 2011 and the assets sold to a new company headed by Stine.

Under the new ownership, the institution, which adopted the name Premier Bank, returned to profitability in the 12th month, or about a year ago; it has been profitable every month since, said President and CEO Chris Maher. The bank has about $151 million in assets and 40 employees.

“It was in pretty bad shape,” Maher said. “But we are on track for positive net income this year.”

He said community response has exceeded expectations: Loans have increased by $79million and deposits are now at $117 million.

Chairman Stine, who led Grand Island's United Nebraska Bank until 2004, said he was looking for a bank to buy before the Mid City failure.

The new branch, he said, will keep all of the bank's locations on or near Dodge Street. The bank will continue to operate branches near 114th Street and West Dodge Road and 168th and West Dodge.

“We had been looking for a new building all along,” Stine said. “Omaha is a Dodge Street kind of town.”

The new location, he said, allows the bank to continue to serve customers around the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

New investor Waitt Co., led by former Gateway Computer owner and Sioux City native Norm Waitt, had been seeking a bank to invest in for several years, President John Schuele said.

“The opportunity just never came up,” Schuele said. “It is good business in a growing metro area.”

Changes in bank ownership require approval from the Nebraska Banking Department, which granted it without incident, said Director John Munn.

“As the successor to a bank the department closed in late 2011, the shareholders of Premier Bank provided the capital necessary for operation of a stable community bank,” Munn said. “The change in control of the bank recently approved by the department broadens the bank's shareholder base.”

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