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Forum staff reports, Published January 08 2013

Bell State Bank acquires mortgage company

FARGO – Fargo-based Bell State Bank & Trust has acquired a former competitor in the mortgage field.

State Bankshares Inc., the parent company of Bell State Bank & Trust, agreed to purchase Minneapolis-based Business Bank and Prime Mortgage.

Bell State Bank & Trust operates Bell Mortgage. In 2012, Prime Mortgage and Bell Mortgage originated nearly $3 billion in mortgages.

Bell State Bank & Trust president Michael Solberg said the proposed acquisition has been a win-win situation.

He said the new partnership will create a strong presence of Bell State Bank & Trust in the Twin Cities and Minnesota.

The Business Bank has total assets of $200 million. It was organized in Minnetonka, Minn., in 2000 with a focus on small business lending.

Founded in 1986, Prime Mortgage joined The Business Bank in 2007. The company employs more than 200 people at 15 offices in Minnesota and a satellite location in Naples, Fla.

Bell State Bank & Trust was chartered in 1966 and has assets totaling more than $2.5 billion.

The bank, formerly known as State Bank & Trust, employs more than 750 people at 17 locations in Fargo-Moorhead, the Minnesota lakes region and Minneapolis. Bell also has trust offices in Fargo, Bismarck, and Boise, Idaho.

Bell Mortgage offices are located in Minnesota and Arizona.

An acquisition agreement has been approved by the board of directors of Business Bancorporation Inc., the parent company of The Business Bank. The transaction is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

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