Arvest - the Walton family bank

By Laurie Bennett

September 8, 2013 at 8:48am

In addition to overseeing the world’s largest company, the Walton family, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, have built a significant sideline in the banking sector.

The family owns Arvest Bank Group, which is headed by billionaire Jim C. Walton, a director of Wal-Mart and son of founder Sam Walton.

Jim Walton
Jim Walton

With $14 billion in assets, Arvest is the third largest privately owned bank in the country, according to rankings by American Banker.

The Arkansas holding company began with Sam Walton’s purchase of the small Bank of Bentonville in 1961, followed by the acquisitions of two other small Arkansas banks. Real expansion began in the 1980s, with the addition of banks in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Last year, Arvest bought Union Bank in Kansas City. This year, it picked up 29 locations from Bank of America. The holding company now has 260 locations in 100 communities.

Jim Walton, like his siblings, is a contributor to conservative causes. In the last election cycle, he gave $200,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney’s candidacy.

He and his brother and sister are also directors of the Walton Family Foundation, which has supported the charter school movement and conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution and the Manhattan Institute.

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