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State Bank & Trust completes purchase of Bell Mortgage

State Bank & Trust of Fargo purchased Bell Mortgage, a 130-year-old mortgage company based in Minneapolis, on January 1, 2011.

The purchase combines the largest independently owned bank in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota with the tri-state area's largest private mortgage company.

Bell Mortgage is retaining its company name and is now a division of State Bank & Trust. Bell's lenders, locations and management team remain the same, and former Bell owner Gary Kirt is staying on as president of the bank's Bell Mortgage division.

"We are excited about this new partnership," Kirt said. "We plan to continue to deliver the highest standard of customer service and value, now combined with the strength and stability of State Bank & Trust."

State Bank & Trust president Michael Solberg added that the purchase has been a win-win situation from the start. "Because the cultures and philosophies of State Bank & Trust and Bell Mortgage are remarkably similar, it's been a smooth transition," Solberg said. "We're very impressed with the Bell Mortgage team, and we look forward to many great years ahead."

Since it was founded in 1880, Bell Mortgage has funded more than half a million home mortgages, including $10 billion in mortgages in the last decade alone. State Bank & Trust will now be offering home equity loans, construction loans and other home mortgage services to Bell's customers.

Bell Mortgage has 180 employees at 28 mortgage offices in the Twin Cities area, Bozeman, Mont., and Phoenix, Ariz. State Bank & Trust has more than 500 employees at 14 full-service banking locations in Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo, Wahpeton, N.D., and the Minnesota lakes area, as well as trust offices in Fargo, Bismarck and Boise, Idaho. Chartered in 1966, the bank has assets totaling more than $2 billion.