The First Bank expands across the Gulf Coast

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The First Bank is about to double its presence along the Gulf Coast.

The local bank will acquire eight new branches from Whitney National Bank.

The branch acquisition, is contingent upon the merger of Whitney National Bank and Hancock Bank. The merger is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2011. Seven of the new locations will be on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and one in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

President and CEO Hoppy Cole Jr. said Wednesday, "Currently we have $540 million in assets with 10 locations, we will be at $735 million in total assets with a total of 18 locations throughout South Mississippi. This allows us to significantly increase our market share, staying focused on customer service and staying focused right here at home."

The First Bank currently employees approximately 160 people, once the merger is complete they will have an additional 50.