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BATESVILLE – October 18, 2013 – Citizens Bank today announced a strategy to grow into a major regional banking organization through expansion and acquisitions.  In a bold first step of that plan, Citizens Bank announced the hiring of one of the most highly respected Arkansas banking executives to fill the newly created position of President.

Phillip N. Baldwin, formerly of Arkadelphia, will assume the position of President of Citizens Bank on December 2, according to Board Chairman Jeff Teague.  Baldwin will share the bank's leadership responsibilities with John Dews, who has been serving as both President and Chief Executive Officer since 2010.

“These are major milestones in our bank’s history,” Teague said.  “John Dews has elevated Citizens Bank’s core strength and talent base to levels that make today’s announcements possible, and we are extremely fortunate to have attracted Phil Baldwin, who has a strong history in community banking, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions.”

Baldwin has an extensive Arkansas banking and financial background.  As President and Chief Executive Officer of Southern Bancorp Inc. in Arkadelphia, he strategically grew the bank’s assets from $250 million to $1.2 billion and increased its net income from $412,000 to more than $9 million a year, making it one of the largest and most profitable rural development banks in the United States. 

“Our Board of Directors has been positioning Citizens Bank for growth during the past few years,” Teague said.  “The dynamic addition of Phil Baldwin, coupled with the foundation laid by John Dews, indicates Citizens Bank’s determination to grow.”

Citizens Bank has been the leading community bank in Batesville and Independence County for more than 60 years.  The bank has grown modestly over the years, with current total assets of nearly $548 million, and branches in Batesville, Cave City, Imboden, Mountain View and Pleasant Plains. 

“My wife’s grandfather, J.K. Southerland, was among a group of local leaders who founded Citizens as a community bank.  We will continue to actively support our communities because that was Mr. Southerland’s vision and because this is our home base,” Teague said.  “It is time, however, for Citizens Bank to step up and play a more assertive role in helping guide the growth and development of our region.  That’s why our Board is committing to a 10-year plan to seek out acquisition and expansion opportunities.”

The Board of Directors’ plan for growth and succession includes the creation of a new separate position of President.  “My role has been to prepare the bank for this day,” Dews said, “and succession planning always called for a division of the positions of Chief Executive Officer and President.”  Dews said he intends to transition off of the bank’s management team at the end of 2014 but he will remain on the Board.

“As he moves into his new role solely as a Director after next year, John’s insight, experience and wisdom about banking will make him a tremendous asset for Citizens Bank for years to come,” Teague said.

Baldwin and his wife, DeeDee, will soon relocate to Batesville, returning to Arkansas after most recently serving as President and Chief Executive Officer for CredAbility, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency based in Atlanta. 

“DeeDee and I are very excited to be coming home,” Baldwin said.  “I absolutely believe in the wisdom of the Board in looking to the future and their farsighted vision to expand.  It is my intention for Citizens Bank to become a resource for the community – we will help grow the community, not just the bank.”

Baldwin was associated with Southern Bancorp from 2000 until 2011.  He was previously Director of Corporate Finance and Reporting for Dillard’s Department Stores; Vice President of Finance, Fairfield Communities Inc.; Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Pinnacle Bank in Little Rock; Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Citizens First Bank in Little Rock; and Senior Manager, Ernst & Young Accounting.

A dedicated community leader at both the local and national level, Baldwin currently serves on the Board of Directors of United Way World Wide, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Emory University Board of Visitors, and he recently ended a term as National Board Chair for United Way of America, the largest nonprofit organization in the world.  He is a past Board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Capital Corporation and the Governor’s Roundtable on Healthcare. 

Baldwin earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Arkansas and is a Certified Public Accountant.  He was named in 2010 as one of the top five social entrepreneurs in the United States by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.  He is a recipient of the United States Small Business Entrepreneurial Leadership Award and has been honored as Economic Developer of the Year by the Society of Economic Development.

About The Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank of Batesville was established in 1953 by a group of local businessmen who shared a vision of creating a bank that would be committed to serving the working people of Batesville and Independence County.  Today, Citizens Bank is Independence County’s largest financial institution by market share, and has expanded its service area to include Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp and Stone counties.  The bank operates 10 fully staffed financial centers in Batesville, Cave City, Imboden, Mountain View and Pleasant Plains.

Phil Baldwin - formal - mug

Phillip N. Baldwin
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