NFR Communications buys Kansas City competitor, Bank News

NFR Communications, Inc., publisher of BankBeat magazine and provider of communications services to the commercial banking industry, has acquired Bank News Media in a deal that brings together two media companies that each have more than a century of history. The deal closed May 28.

“We are very bullish on B2B niche media,” commented Tom Bengtson, president of NFR Communications. “Bank News Media has been a long-time formidable competitor and we look forward to integrating its staff, publications and services into NFR Communications. The companies complement each other very well and we expect immediate benefits from resulting synergies.”

Joe and Janet Holman, owners of Bank News Media, agree that the combined companies will provide enhanced services. “This is a beneficial transaction for bankers and the communities they serve throughout the country,” Janet Holman said. The Holmans have owned Bank News Media since 2009, purchasing the company from Pam Baker, the widow of former publisher Bill Baker, who passed away suddenly in 2003 at age 52.

Prior to its rebrand in September 2018, BankBeat magazine was published under the banner NorthWestern Financial Review. The monthly magazine serves the community banking industry from the Ohio Valley in the east to the Pacific Northwest. Its history stretches to 1894. In addition, NFR Communications publishes, is a content provider to the community banking industry, and manages the Bank Holding Company Association. NFR Communications is based in Minneapolis.

Bank News Media, based in Roeland Park, Kan., publishes Bank News magazine, bank directories for states in New England, the heartland, the mountain west and south, and provides customized publishing services to numerous state bankers associations around the country, including Florida, Missouri, Kansas, New Jersey, Maine and Washington.

NFR Communications partnered with Central Financial Services, Naples, Fla., to facilitate the transaction; terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Tom Bengtson

Bengtson said he recalls in 1988 when his employer purchased Northwestern Banker magazine, which was published for nearly a century out of Des Moines. “There were three regional magazines at that time that covered community banking in the center part of the country – Northwestern Banker, Commercial West and Bank News,” Bengtson said. “It seems fitting that the remaining pair of that original trio should ultimately come together under one roof.”

In the 1980s, the company that published Commercial West (now BankBeat), also published bank directories. “The directories were very successful, but the owner of the company sold that business line before selling the company in 1992. I always felt the company would have been stronger with the directory business and now we are getting a chance to participate in the directory business in tandem with banking magazines,” Bengtson said.

Bengtson, a former director of communications for the Minnesota Bankers Association, said he is looking forward to developing the relationships Bank News Media enjoys with many of the state associations. “The associations do important work for the industry, and we think we have the tools and skills in the combined company to help them work even more effectively for the nation’s community banks,” Bengtson said.

“The most important thing is that we are going to be able to deepen our service to the banking industry with the combined talent, skill and experience of the staff at the two companies,” Bengtson said. “Bank News Media offers tremendous expertise in editorial, design, administration, sales and data management that will beautifully complement the five-person staff in the Twin Cities.” Bengtson said the company anticipates maintaining offices in both the Kansas City and Minneapolis areas.