Stock Yards Bank & Trust is making a major expansion into the Central Kentucky market after spending its first 117 years as a major member of the Louisville banking market. SYB completed an acquisition of Paris-based Kentucky Bank in June, and this month the latter’s 19 branches become Stock Yards operations.
SYB came into 2021 with 44 offices in the Louisville, Cincinnati and Indianapolis markets and has grown its earnings per share in 28 of the past 32 years.
The deal with Kentucky Bank is a good marriage, according to state banking experts, that puts SYB into a very desirable new market with no duplication of locations.
“This one fit Stock Yards perfectly,” said Ballard W. Cassady Jr., president and CEO of the Kentucky Bankers Association. “It puts them in that Central Kentucky market—it’s an excellent market—with a good bank in locations where they needed locations.”
Banks always want to grow and prefer to grow organically, but acquisition can be the better option when market demographics make significant growth unlikely.
“It was a great opportunity for Stock Yards Bank and a good opportunity for the stockholders of Kentucky Bank,” Cassady said.
James “Ja” Hillebrand, chairman and CEO of Stock Yards Bank, said the banks share a unique alignment of core values, business philosophies and service models—a community bank approach that is based on building long-term relationships and investing in the community.
The two banks have similar deep roots in Kentucky. Stock Yards Bank traces its history to 1904, when it opened to the livestock and agribusiness industries as The Bourbon Stock Yards in Louisville. Kentucky Bank originated in Paris in 1851, serving the agricultural economy of the region.
Both banks have well-established wealth management operations.
“Kentucky Bank fits in seamlessly with how Stock Yards does business,” Hillebrand said. Acquiring Kentucky Bank “allows us to expand into a new market, gives our existing customers more banking options in the region and allows us to enhance our services across the Central and Eastern Kentucky market.”
The merger allows broader product offerings, increased lending capability, and expands the branch service delivery system for existing customers of both banks as well as for new clients, Hillebrand said.
“Additionally, the larger organization provides solid growth opportunities for us and a platform for future expansion,” he said.
Combined, the two banks have $5.8 billion in assets.
This is Stock Yards’ third acquisition since 2013. It acquired The Bank of Oldham County in 2013 and King Southern Bank in Nelson County in 2019. The acquisition of Kentucky Bank furthers Stock Yards’ goal to remain independent and community- service oriented, Hillebrand said.
“We are always focused on an organic growth strategy, meaning we’re going to grow our bank one customer at a time, one branch at a time, but opportunities came up within another institution to help us grow more,” he said.
Business and consumer customers always need a bank that is large enough to weather unexpected events and stand by customers in challenging times, said Louis Pritchard, president and CEO of Kentucky Bank.
“We feel this merger will provide the operating scale, lending capacity, expanded product offering and technology of a larger institution married with the community banking model that both banks have always valued. It is a powerful formula for providing enhanced banking services to the Central Kentucky market,” he said.
Prichard will join Stock Yards Bank with the title of Central Kentucky market president and will serve on the bank’s management committees, including operations, lending, strategic planning, interest rates and human resources.
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