State Bank & Trust, a big North Dakota bank that's been muscling into Minnesota, is changing its name to Bell State Bank later this year.

The Fargo-based lender is plucking the "Bell" from St. Louis Park-based Bell Mortgage, which it bought in early 2011. State Bank & Trust recently opened its first full-service Twin Cities bank in Golden Valley.

The State Bank & Trust name was too generic and confusing, said President Michael Solberg, and Bell is a powerful brand. The bank's divisions for mortgage, wealth management and investments will all take on the new name as divisions of Bell State Bank. It will keep the trees that have been in State Bank & Trust's logo.

State Bank & Trust was founded in Fargo in 1966 as State Bank of Fargo and is the state's largest independently owned bank. It has tripled in size over the past decade and now has about $2.2 billion in assets, making it the largest family-owned bank operating in Minnesota, too.

The bank opened branches in Minnesota in recent years before entering the Twin Cities market and employs about 270 people in Minnesota, including at Bell Mortgage.

Bell Mortgage, a residential mortgage lender, has been around the Twin Cities for 132 years. Bell Mortgage President Gary Kirt, who bought the company in 1980, said Bell made about $1 billion in home loans last year, about 40 percent of them refinancing.

Kirt said the name change makes sense: "We want to make sure we're flying under one flag."

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683