Lebanon bank comes of age, pays first dividend

First Freedom says Q1 profits up 12%

The board of First Freedom Bancshares has declared the organization’s first dividend, a move that comes almost six months after it exited the TARP program when federal officials auctioned off more than $8 million worth of preferred shares.

The holding company for First Freedom Bank will pay 10 cents per share to owners of record as of May 17. The payments to about 1,100 shareholders, which will total about $236,000, will be made May 31.

“We are pleased to make this announcement,” said Chairman Ken Howell. “The FDIC restricts all new banks from paying dividends for the first seven years. We are now beyond that point and are glad to recognize our shareholders with this cash dividend.”

First Freedom officials also said the bank, which runs three offices in Wilson County, posted pre-tax profits of about $1.1 million in the first quarter of this year. That was an increase of almost 12 percent from the first three months of 2012. Assets rose 10 percent to $268 million.

“We are very pleased with our first quarter,” said John Lancaster, president and CEO of First Freedom. “Wilson County has been very good to us and we appreciate the opportunity to serve the residents and small businesses of this area.”