Nov-Dec_Issue - page 30

Wisconsin Community Banker
November/December 2014
Starion to Purchase WPS
Community Bank
BISMARCK, N.D.—Starion Financial
has signed an agreement to purchase
the Madison-based WPS Community
Bank, a subsidiary of Wisconsin Phy-
sicians Service Insurance Corp. that
was formed in 2009. Starion has 14
branches in North Dakota and Wis-
consin including those in Sun Prairie
and Middleton.
WPS Community Bank has $98
million in assets and $221,000 in net
income as of June 30, 2014. Follow-
ing regulatory approval, the deal is
expected to close during the first quar-
ter of 2015. John Hecht, WPS Com-
munity Bank’s current president and
CEO, will continue to lead the bank
following the acquisition.
Craig Larson, Starion president/
CEO, stated in a news release, “We
are excited to have the opportunity
to acquire such a successful, well-run
community bank. Starion has been
looking at community banks in the
Madison market to expand our pres-
ence and increase our commitment to
the community.”
WPS’s decision to sell the bank
comes at a time when the bank is a
highly valued asset and the market is
good for purchases and sales of banks.
The divesture allows WPS to continue
to invest in growing and innovating its
core business.
River Valley Breaks
Ground in Middleton
Bank recently broke ground for its
newest branch at 8329 Murphy Drive
in Middleton. Currently located at
2601 W. Beltline Highway, the bank
will serve its Dane County customers
there until February when the new
branch is completed.
The new building will feature an
expanded lobby, Internet café, and free
WiFi for customers.
Commerce State Bank in
Growth Mode
WEST BEND—Commerce State Bank
is experiencing a growth spurt. In Sep-
tember, the bank, which was founded
in 2005, opened a 1,500-square-foot
loan production office in Saukville.
The bank is also completing a new
Cedarburg branch that will open
before the holidays. The 5,500-square-
foot branch is located at W61 N297
Washington Ave., across the street
from the bank’s existing Cedarburg
branch. The new location will double
the size of the previous building.
First Business Enters
Kenosha Market
MADISON—First Business Bank-
Milwaukee has opened a new office in
Kenosha at 6633 Green Bay Road. The
office will operate as a cashless model.
Customers will conduct transactions
electronically with secure online
banking and remote deposit.
Wes Ricchio will lead the bank as
Kenosha regional president.
“We have identified small- to
medium-sized privately held compa-
nies as our target market so we can
provide the service they deserve rather
than trying to be everything to every-
body,” Ricchio told the Milwaukee
BizTimes. “The very small and startup
businesses, or those with a lot of cash
transactions, are typically not a good
fit for us.”
PyraMax Honored for
Healthy Employees
GREENFIELD—PyraMax Bank was
named one of the Milwaukee area’s
Healthiest Employers in the medium
category (101-1,000 employees) by the
Milwaukee Business Journal.
The bank’s wellness programs
include InHealth Bioscreen, InHealth
Risk Assessment, and InHealth
Coaching programs. Participating
employees who meet three of five
biometric measures see premium
discounts for themselves and their
spouses on the company-provided
insurance plan.
Beloit Bank Victim of
Ponzi Scheme
BELOIT—Blackhawk Bancorp, the
parent company of Blackhawk Bank,
was a victim of an alleged fraud
scheme perpetrated by a Florida busi-
nessman. The scheme led to a loss of
$1.6 million for the Beloit bank.
Pennant Management Inc., a
Milwaukee firm that acquires gov-
ernment-guaranteed SBA and USDA
loans, places the loans into funds,
which are offered to community banks
and others as investments.
Pennant essentially became the
middle man in this scam in which
Nikesh A. Patel, a Orlando hotelier
and owner of First Farmers Financial,
a USDA approved lender, sold fake
USDA loans to Pennant beginning
in June 2013. Pennant began buying
loans from Patel’s firm after doing
due diligence and confirming with
the USDA that First Farmers was an
approved lender.
Pennant sold 25 fake loans worth
$176 million as investments to various
firms including Blackhawk Bancorp,
which had a $5.5 million interest in
the loans and guarantees.
Patel was charged in federal court
with wire fraud after he “forged the
loan documents on behalf of fictitious
borrowers, forged the signature of
USDA officials on the loan guaran-
tees, and pocketed the loan proceeds,”
according to a story in the Milwau-
kee Journal Sentinel. Patel used the
proceeds from the sale for real estate
investments including a high-end
Illinois Bank Opens Loan
Production Office in
EFFINGHAM, Ill.—The Illinois-based
Midland States Bank has opened a
commercial loan production office in
Wauwatosa in the same building as its
Wauwatosa Settlement Trust Group,
at 1223 Mayfair Crossing. Midland
acquired the trust services practice
from Milwaukee-based Securant Bank
& Trust in early 2013.
Midland States Bank has $1.7 bil-
lion in assets and some 400 employees
at 35 branches in Illinois and Mis-
souri. Alan Forristall, Milwaukee
market president, has more than 30
years of banking experience. The
bank made the decision to expand its
Wisconsin presence when Forristall
and his wife decided to move to the
area to be closer to family. The bank
will re-evaluate its Wauwatosa loan
production office in a year.
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