HARLINGEN, RGV – Despite the political rumors about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, Paul S. Moxley, chief executive officer and president of Texas Regional Bank, says everything will all work out.

Paul Moxley

Today, a U.S. dollar is worth 20.43 Mexican Pesos. Moxley said the statistics of the retail sales from the holiday break will give a better idea of how the local economy is doing, but based on the traffic it’s pretty hectic. As long as the peso stays up, the economy will be a little slow, but it comes and goes, Moxley said.

“Everything’s a cycle. If you’re around long enough you’ll see the cycles happen and I’ve seen them,” Moxley told the Rio Grande Guardian. “This next year is going to be a very positive year … for businesses, financial institutions and the United States in general–the Valley included.”

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The law lowers trade restrictions and tariffs between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

During the presidential debates and the presidential campaign, there was talk about renegotiating NAFTA and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Moxley, however, thinks the altercation of NAFTA is targeted towards the suppliers.

“We always have to remember that the Rio Grande Valley is about 33 percent dependent on Mexico for business, retail and money that comes into the Valley,” Moxley said. “I don’t see us having a great, big wall shutting us off from trade and what we’re doing. … [For NAFTA,] I think what the President-elect, [Donald Trump], is saying to companies is if you want to go into Mexico, then you’re going to pay to do that–don’t take away from your businesses and communities in the U.S. [to] just get up and move to Mexico.”

Texas Regional Bank to acquire Blanco National Bank

Texas State Bankshares (TSB), Inc. and Blanco National Holdings, Inc. announced Nov. 29 that the two entities have entered into an agreement to merge Blanco National Bank (BNB) with Texas Regional Bank (TRB). The agreement is still pending approval from the Federal Reserve Bank and the State Banking Department.

TRB will add four branches in the Hill Country – the primary branch in Blanco and the rest in Fredericksburg, Wimberley and Spring Branch – totaling TSB’s number of networks to 13.

Michael Scaief, chairman and president of TSB as well as the chairman of TRB, said the most common question is why is TRB expanding to Hill Country and not major cities such as Corpus Christi, San Antonio or Austin. Instead of establishing banks in an already heavily populated city, TSB decided to establish themselves in Hill Country – one of the fastest growing metropolitan statistical areas in the state, if not the country, Scaief told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“Texas Regional Bank has had some fabulous growth in the Valley and we diversified our risk by building banks in the major markets up and down the Valley,” Scaief said. “So, to blend or spread out that risk through spreading out concentration, you go to a market that’s going to offer you the most opportunity. By going to [Hill Country], the probability of success is much greater than going to a market that’s saturated with banks or doesn’t have the growth opportunity.”

Michael Scaief

Blanco National Bank was established in 1906 and has remained as a family-owned enterprise since. However, BNB had a shareholder base that was past retirement age and without a succession plan or successor. At that point, the best choice for the bank was to turn the asset from a bank into cash, Scaief said.

Scaief told the Rio Grande Guardian the organization will bring trust and wealth management, mortgage, a slew of core banking products and some great technology that’s hard for a $180 million bank the size of Blanco to do in this day and age.

“Obviously, with any acquisition there [are] all sorts of challenges that go with it,” Scaief said. “But the end result is they will be a part of an organization that has a great culture, great community spirit, great benefits as well as great opportunity for growth and advancement. The strengths will dramatically outweigh the negatives.”

As for Texas Regional Bank, it began with the acquisition of the Falfurrias State Bank May 2010 with $18 million in assets. Since then, TRB added nine banking centers throughout the Rio Grande Valley in cities such as Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco, McAllen, Mission and Edinburg.

TRB sought an opportunity when Texas State Bank, the largest super regional bank that Scaief said was responsible for a lot of the growth in the Valley, got sold. Scaief said nobody wanted to get into banking due to the financial crisis of 2008, however TRB picked up businesses that were being released by banks. Scaief said he is confident TRB will pick up businesses when they move into Hill Country.

“Our banks have been put together to be a community bank and we’re here to help the Valley grow–that’s what we always have done and that’s what we know best,” Moxley said. “We know the people in the Valley, we know how to bank the people in the Valley and we know how to take care of them. We’re relationship bankers – we believe in people.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows an artist’s impression of what the new Texas Regional Bank headquarters in Harlingen, Texas, will look like.