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Wednesday, 22 December 2010 13:00
Louisiana Jindal Announces Benchmark Bank Expansion As Hancock, Whitney Merge
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On the day that 127-year-old Louisiana institution, Whitney Bank announced the merger with Mississippi-based, Hancock Bank, Louisiana Governor Jindal announced that Benchmark Bank an expansion in Monroe.

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that Benchmark Bank’s subsidiary, Affiliated Mortgage Company (AMC) of West Monroe, has committed to retain and expand its operations in Northeast Louisiana.

Benchmark Bank originally considered moving AMC operations to another state to accommodate the expansion, but the company has instead decided to stay and grow in the Monroe area. To accommodate AMC’s expansion, Benchmark Bank has purchased a new, larger building in Monroe, and AMC will move into its new location in February 2011.  According to Jindal’s office, the project will create 137 new, direct jobs, retain 41 existing jobs and generate over $2 million in capital investment.   The Louisiana Department of Economic Development (LED) estimates that the 137 new, direct jobs will result in approximately 80 new, indirect jobs, and will generate $6.1 million in new state tax revenues and $1.9 million in local state tax revenues over the next 10 years.

Governor Jindal said, “This is great news for Northeast Louisiana and our entire state. Again and again, thanks to innovative economic development efforts and our pro-business economic reforms, companies are committing to stay and grow in Louisiana rather than expand in other states. As a result, Louisiana’s economy continues to outperform the South and U.S. by significant margins and that’s why business retention and expansion efforts will remain our top economic development priority.”

To secure the expansion, LED offered its Quality Jobs Program. This program provides a 5-6 percent payroll rebate for each qualifying new job and also provides certain sales tax rebates for capital expenditures for up to 10 years.

Affiliated Mortgage Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Benchmark Bank, and the correspondent lending channel of AMC purchases agency quality whole loans-servicing released from a nationwide network of mortgage lenders. AMC’s customers consist of banks, savings banks, mortgage banking corporations and credit unions.

Hancock Holding Company parent company of 112-year-old Hancock Bank, and Whitney Holding Corporation founded in 1883, announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Whitney to merge into Hancock in a stock-for-stock transaction. The transaction was approved unanimously by both companies' boards of directors.

Under the terms of the agreement, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and other customary conditions, shareholders of Whitney Holding Company will receive 0.418 shares of Hancock Holding Company common stock in exchange for each share of Whitney common stock. The value of a Whitney share would be $15.48 based on Hancock's closing price on December 21, 2010 of $37.04, a premium of 42 percent to Whitney's closing price of $10.87 on the same date.

Upon completion of the transaction, the combined company will have approximately $20 billion in total assets, $16 billion in deposits, $12 billion in loans, 305 branches, 390 ATMs, and almost 5,000 employees across the five contiguous states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Subject to the receipt of requisite approvals, Hancock expects to purchase all of Whitney's TARP preferred stock and warrants held by the U.S. Treasury from the U.S. Treasury at closing.

It is reported that Whitney will use the Hancock Bank name.


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