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Executives of The First Bancshares, Inc. (Nasdaq: FBMS), Whitney National Bank, and Hancock Bank of Louisiana announced today that a subsidiary of The First Bancshares, Inc., The First, A National Banking Association, (
www.TheFirstBank.com) (“the First”) has entered into a branch purchase and assumption agreement with Whitney National Bank (“Whitney”) and Hancock Bank of Louisiana (“Hancock”) to acquire seven Whitney branches located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and one Whitney branch in Bogalusa, Louisiana. As part of the branch acquisition, The First expects to acquire approximately $68 million in loans and to assume approximately $195 million in deposits.
The First President & CEO M. Ray “Hoppy” Cole, Jr., commented, “The First is excited about the opportunity to more than double our presence along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which we believe is a very attractive market, as well as expand into the neighboring Louisiana market. These eight branches have a loyal, long-term customer base, and we look forward to providing these customers with the continued personalized service you would expect from a community bank. We are pleased to welcome these Whitney branch customers and employees to The First.”
On December 22, 2010, Hancock Holding Company (Nasdaq: HBHC), parent company of Hancock, and Whitney Holding Corporation (Nasdaq: WTNY), parent company of Whitney , announced that the companies had entered into a definitive agreement for Hancock Holding Company to acquire Whitney Holding Corporation, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals and other customary closing conditions. On May 17, 2011, Hancock and Whitney agreed to sell the eight Mississippi and Louisiana branches to the First to resolve certain branch concentration concerns of the U.S. Department of Justice relating to the merger of Whitney into Hancock.
The branch acquisition by The First is contingent on the closing of the proposed merger between Hancock Holding Company and Whitney Holding Corporation, which is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2011.