HOUSTON, Sept. 6, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- One of the country's most experienced international bankers has joined the Hancock Holding Company (Nasdaq:HBHC) financial services organization, which includes century-old Gulf South institutions Whitney Bank and Hancock Bank. A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=14538 The manager of the company's new export finance group, vice president Deborah Conrad has more than 35 years of experience in the international banking sector—much of that with Export Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im). She will lead Whitney and Hancock in providing key expertise and financial guidance for businesses looking to access federal export finance assistance efficiently and increase global sales. Hancock Holding Company and its banks operate throughout a combined business footprint comprising the five southeastern states that encircle the Gulf of Mexico. Based in Houston, Conrad will serve clients throughout the Gulf Coast region, as well as their international business partners, and help position Hancock Holding Company as the region's leader in export business banking. "As technology advances, businesses are competing in an economy that is more global than ever before," said Carl Chaney, president and CEO of Hancock Holding Company. "Export finance is becoming more important to businesses and industries in the Gulf Coast region every day. Hancock Holding Company and its banks are committed to providing the specialized services and products clients need to succeed in today's global marketplace." Conrad's career comprises 17 years with Ex-Im in Washington, D.C. She joined Whitney and Hancock from U.S. Bank in Los Angeles, where she served as vice president and manager of the bank's Ex-Im Working Capital Guarantee Program. She also worked with BB&T and the U.S. Small Business Administration in Baltimore and Bank of America in Phoenix and Boston. Conrad is a recipient of the BB&T Sterling Award for Performance and SBA & Ex-Im Bank Outstanding Performance Awards.