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Zions to buy chain of Arizona banks

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Zions Bancorp. said Monday it plans to buy Arizona-based The Stockmen's Bancorp. Inc. in a stock deal valued at nearly $200 million.

Zions will offer 2.57 million shares of its common stock for all of the equity interests of The Stockmen's Bancorp., Zions senior vice president Clark Hinckley said Monday.

Zions stock, which closed at $77.45 on Friday, rose 61 cents Monday to close at $78.06 per share on Nasdaq.

The acquisition, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2007, expands Zions' footprint in Arizona and California, Zions said. The bank, via its National Bank of Arizona subsidiary, already has a presence in the southeastern part of the state, Hinckley said, including Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma.

Stockmen's Bank is the largest independent bank in Arizona, with about $1.2 billion of total assets and 43 offices, including 11 in central California. Based in Kingman, Ariz., its net income for the fiscal year ending June 30 was $11.9 million.

"Joining with National Bank of Arizona and enjoying the strong backing of Zions Bancorporation provides our customers with the best of both worlds — access to state-of-the-art banking products and services while maintaining the value created by long-standing personal relationships and an emphasis on customer service," Farrel Holyoak, Stockmen's president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. "Merging Stockmen's Bank with the National Bank of Arizona seems to be a natural fit."

Holyoak will serve as regional president of the National Bank of Arizona and will continue to oversee the operations of the acquired branches, Zions said in its statement.

Zions runs its banking businesses under local management teams through more than 450 offices in 10 Western states. Most recently, it entered the Texas market, with the $1.71 billion acquisition last year of Amegy Bancorp. Inc.

Which, according to Hinckley, was more an exception than a signal of Zions' acquisition strategy.

"We're not out for world domination," Hinckley said. "We're really very focused on the markets we're in, in the West and Southwest. Once we're in a state, we sort of like to fill in our footprint within that state."

Contributing: Bloomberg News

E-mail: jnii@desnews.com