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Home BancShares Chairman John Allison: Q&A

TheStreet: How is the integration of Vision Bank going? Can you say anything about the integration of the six failed Florida banks acquired in 2010?

Allison: We are very pleased thus far. It takes a while to adapt cultures but overall, but we have found that these people are just looking for leadership and they are ready to go to work. We have picked up lots of talent in the Florida market, and we are looking for more.

These banks didn't get in trouble overnight and they are not going to come out of it overnight. It is going to take four or five years to get these acquired Florida branches up to our performance standards.

I personally visit every market that we enter and I get up and talk. We tell them who we are, what we are, what we do, and we are known for doing what we say we will do. We tell it like it is.

During this credit cycle it is different because we are managing the loans [as opposed to the wave of bank failures in the late 80's and early 90's, when the Resolution Trust Corp. liquidated failed banks' loans].

TheStreet: Do you expect the company to remain focused on commercial real estate lending?

Allison: Yes. We have found when liquidating acquired loans in Florida, that if [the collateral property] is a condominium it will sell, if it is oceanfront, it will sell, if it is income producing it will sell. But if it is seven miles off of the ocean, they might as well put the cows back on it, because it was a cow pasture before, and it is going to be a cow pasture for a long time.

All the failed banks that we have had in Florida have had thousands upon thousands of lot loans. There will be a day of reckoning in Florida on these lots, and they will go for nickels and pennies on the dollar before they are sold.
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