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Lebanese banker buys Pikes Peak National; no local changes seen

       Pikes Peak National Bank, started by Westside business leaders 60 years ago, has been purchased by Antoun Sehnaoui of Beiruit, Lebanon.
       The closing of the sale is expected in July, pending approval by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
A photo from 2004 shows the late Earl Georgeson (left), who served as chairman of the board of Pikes Peak National Bank until his death in 2012; Robin Roberts (then Robin Sapien), who is still president; and Earl's son, John Georgeson, who is still CEO. But John will step down when the sale to Antoun Sehnaoui receives the necessary regulatory approval (expected in July).
Westside Pioneer file photo

       A spokesperson for Sehnaoui, Mark Corallo of Alexandria, Virginia, said the new owner plans to retain the bank's employees - an offshoot of agreeing not to merge PPNB with another bank - and also plans to expand its reach.
       Making sure that the employees are “taken care of” was a key stipulation of the sale, according to John Georgeson, the bank's CEO. He currently owns Pikes Peak National's holding company with his sister, Jody Georgeson, who is also a member of the board of directors.
       Their father, the late Earl Georgeson, had been the bank's chairman of the board from 1976 until his death in 2012 at the age of 91.
       John has been CEO since 2001.
       Sponsored by business leaders in the West Side Commercial Club in 1957 - two of them who also served as Colorado Springs mayors - the bank was originally formed as the Pikes Peak Bank of Commerce. At the time, there had been no bank in what's now called Old Colorado City since 1932.
       The Bank of Commerce operated at 2418 W. Colorado Ave. (now the Garman Building) until 1966, when it moved across the street to the then-new building at 2401 W. Colorado Ave., with the name changed to Pikes Peak National Bank.
       Now with two branches, plus the main facility in Old Colorado City, the operation has about 30 employees and assets of nearly $89 million.
In a photo from 2007, Pikes Peak National Bank President Robin Roberts (in front of corner post) and CEO John Georgeson (to her right) pose with the bank's Old Colorado City office's employees. The occasion was the bank's 50th anniversary.
Westside Pioneer file photo

       Sehnaoui earned a business degree from an American university and worked in New York banking before returning to Lebanon in 1999. He is now the major shareholder in Société Générale de Banque au Liban (SGBL), which Corallo described as “the family bank.”
       Discussing the Pikes Peak National purchase, Corallo explained that “Antoun wanted to enter the United States market. He's been looking for the right bank for the last few years, one that has a national charter, excellent management and has had thorough regulatory scrutiny.”
       Additional information - as referenced by Georgeson - appears in a news article on a Lebanese website, businessnews.com.lb.
       That article quotes an SGBL manager, saying that under Sehnaoui, “Pikes Peak National Bank will offer additional banking services and will target a niche market of retail and institutional clients. There is also a plan to increase the capital of the acquired bank in the future in order to expand its operations.”
       The article adds that “Pikes Peak National Bank complements SGBL, and both banks will act as sister companies since Sehnaoui is a major shareholder in SGBL with a stake of 63 percent.”
       Corallo said Sehnaoui will act as chairman of the board for the Old Colorado City bank. He does not plan to work here on a regular basis, but will drop by “occasionally,” Corallo clarified.
       He added that Sehnaoui plans to come to Old Colorado City around the time of the closing.
       Georgeson elaborated that he had not been trying to sell the bank operation, but was approached by Sehnaoui's group about two years ago. Negotiations were finalized this year, with a formal agreement reached May 5.
       Asked how the ownership change might affect Pikes Peak National's tradition of local control, Georgeson emphasized the stability aspect resulting from there being no merger, and a key reason is that Robin Roberts (bank president since 2003) is continuing in that role. “Everything will still be the same,” he said.

Westside Pioneer/press release
(Posted 5/21/17; Business: Changes)

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