State Bank & Trust to Purchase Twin Cities-Based Bell Mortgage

State Bank & Trust has announced its agreement to purchase Bell Mortgage, a 130-year-old mortgage company based in Minneapolis. The anticipated purchase will combine the largest independently owned bank in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota with the tri-state area’s largest private mortgage company.

Bell Mortgage currently has 180 employees at 28 mortgage offices in the Twin Cities area, Bozeman, Mont., and Phoenix, Ariz. State Bank & Trust has more than 500 employees at 14 full-service banking locations. Chartered in 1966, the bank has assets totaling more than $1.9 billion.

Bell Mortgage chairman and CEO Gary Kirt said he was looking for a partnership with a regional bank to help his company grow and adapt to the changing mortgage industry.

“State Bank & Trust was the perfect match for us,” said Kirt, who will stay on as president of the bank’s new Bell Mortgage division. “In tough times, both our companies have done well while others in the mortgage and banking industry have struggled. Our philosophy of taking care of our employees and customers, and giving back to the communities we serve, matches well with State Bank’s culture.”

Since it was founded in 1880, Bell Mortgage has funded more than half a million home mortgages, including $10 billion in mortgages in the last decade alone. In addition, Bell has built a reputation for progressive growth combined with outstanding customer service. Michael Solberg, State Bank & Trust president and chief operating officer, says the bank will offer home equity loans, construction loans and other home mortgage services to Bell’s base of customers.

“We’re excited,” commented Solberg. “We’re very impressed with the growth of Bell Mortgage and how they do business. We hope to bring additional resources to help them continue to grow with the high level of service they’re already providing. In turn, Bell Mortgage gives us new opportunities in the Twin Cities market, and we look forward to a great partnership with them.”

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