Hancock Holding Co.’s acquisition of the New Orleans-based Whitney Bank in 2011 has not panned out as investors originally hoped, except in Lafayette, which now ranks as the top-performing market company-wide.

By Aug. 30, the company plans to close up to 45 Hancock and Whitney bank branches in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, which is expected to save the company between $18 million and $22 million.

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 This April photo captures the sun setting on the construction site of Whitney Bank's new HQ in River Ranch.
The closures, however, will not affect the Whitney Bank branches operating in the Acadiana region, says Whitney’s Lafayette/CENLA Regional President Duayne Richard, who spoke with ABiz by phone Tuesday morning. They'll actually be good for this market, he says, as resources will be redirected here.

Richard tells ABiz that Whitney branches from Lafayette all the way down to Morgan City will not be impacted by the closures, noting the Hub City has been designated one of Hancock-Whitney’s “top-performers in loans, deposits and wealth management.”

“The branch closures are part of a broad corporate initiative that will allow us to redeploy capital into our stronger areas, which means we’ll be able to hire more people, and put money into areas that will generate a greater return for our customers,” says Richard. “We’re still waiting to send out client notifications in the areas that branches will be closed, but I can tell you none are in the Acadiana market.

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Design by Pecot & Company Architects/Rendering by Chris LeBlanc
For branches in the Alexandria region, however, he says that won’t be the case. Richard did not elaborate on which branches there will be shuttered.

“It seems banks across the country are realigning their branches and business models to adapt to the way their customers manage their money,” says Richard. “There’s more electronic, online, remote deposit banking now days, and the use of branches is something of an outdated thing of the past, unless of course you have a good market share like in Lafayette. Alexandria just didn’t have a good market share, and the branches there just weren’t as profitable as we’d like to have seen them.”

The new regional headquarters under construction in River Ranch is further testament, adds Richard, to the company’s success here in the Hub City.

“There’s a lot of money going into that new headquarters,” Richard notes.

The fate of Whitney’s downtown branch — the Lafayette regional HQ for the last 30 years — is still in the air. Yet Richard says construction of the new headquarters at the corner of Camellia and Settlers Trace boulevards — a $10 million, 50,000-square-foot office complex by River Ranch Development called Camellia Tower V — is moving along as planned.

“The Lemoine Co. has already poured the slab and have construction rolling along," says Richard. "It’s still business-as-usual at our downtown branch. With all this other stuff going on and the closing off branches, a decision on whether we'll keep the downtown branch or not has been put on the back-burner for now."

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