Mississippi-based Hancock Bank’s acquisition of Whitney, Louisiana’s largest bank, is a step closer to fruition after shareholders on both sides approved the acquisition Friday.

Associated Press business writer Alan Sayre writes that 98.7 percent of Whitney’s shareholders approved the acquisition, as did 98.4 percent of Hancock’s shareholders.

The $1.5 billion stock deal must still clear regulatory hurdles before it’s finalized, a step executives from both banks say they expect to be complete by the end of this quarter:
The Justice Department did not raise antitrust objections to the acquisition, but is requiring the sale of eight Whitney offices in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Under an agreement with the government, New Orleans-based Whitney will sell its entire network of seven branches in the Mississippi market of Biloxi-Gulfport, along with $155.4 million in deposits and one office in Bogalusa, La., along with $46.7 million in deposits.

The combined bank will be headquartered in Gulfport, although Hancock has said that it will maintain a small regional management office in New Orleans. The bank will operate under the brand name of Hancock in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, while current Whitney Bank locations in Louisiana and Texas will keep that name.
With roughly 300 branches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas, Hancock will be the 32nd largest bank in the country after the merger is complete.

Read more on the shareholder approval here.
For more on the Whitney-Hancock merger, check out the February ABiz cover story “Raw Deal.” 

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