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Robert Trigaux

Purchase of Whitney Bank sparks talk of more bank deals, new players in Florida



hancockbanklogo.gifWake up and good morning. You'd think a few days before Christmas that all would be quiet throughout the economic house. Quite the contrary. Deals are happening -- witness the buyout (story here) of fabric/crafts retailer Jo-Ann Stores -- before the year-end deadlines. And one of the latest is the acquisition of Louisiana's Whitney Holdings -- we know them as Whitney Bank branches in Tampa Bay -- being purchased by another, smaller regional Gulf coast bank called Hancock Holdings of Gulfport, Miss. Here's the Wall Street Journal story on the deal.

whitney_logo.gifWhitney, you may recall, first entered the Tampa Bay market in 2004 with the purchase of Madison Bancshares in Palm Harbor. It followed that deal bu buying First National Bancshares of Bradenton, then filled in the gaps with the acquisition of Signature Financial Holdings Inc. (Signature Bank) of St. Petersburg for $61.7-million in cash and stock. Now they will be known as Hancock Bank, which already has a presence on Florida's Panhandle, once the deal is finalized.

The Hancock-Whitney deal closely follows other recent bank acquisitions that include Bank of Montreal's purchase of Marshall & Ilsley, whose M&I brand has been a fixture on a downtown Tampa tower, as well as Toronto-Dominion's purchase (via its TD Bank unit) of Mercantile Bank of Florida.

The bump in bank deals has analysts producing new lists of potential takeover target in banking -- many of which do business in Florida. The targets, many of which are unlikely to be acquired bu you never know these days, include Alabama-based Regions Bank, Bank Atlantic in Fort Lauderdale and even Atlanta's SunTrust Banks.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Thursday, December 23, 2010 9:41am]


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