Acadiana Business

Iberia, Whitney-Hancock dispute La.'s biggest bank title

by Heather Miller

IberiaBank claims to be the oldest and biggest' bank in the state since the Whitney-Hancock merger; Hancock's CEO says otherwise.

Lafayette-based IberiaBank made the best of a sticky situation when after three months of negotiations, it lost a major bid to purchase Whitney Bank. Capitalizing on Whitney's merger with Mississippi-based Hancock Bank, which swooped in at the 11th hour and outbid Iberia, IberiaBank has been advertising for months that the June 4 merger of Hancock and Whitney makes IberiaBank the "oldest and biggest" bank in the state.

But according to a report from The Times-Picayune, Hancock's CEO Carl Chaney says not quite.

With $11.8 billion in assets, Whitney in its pre-merger status held the long-running title of being the largest bank in the state. But on May 31, IberiaBank's assets increased from $10 billion to $12 billion when it purchased Lake-Charles based Cameron Bank and Omni Bank of Metairie.

While Iberia worked to quickly take over its two latest acquisitions, Whitney was in the process of combining its assets with those of Hancock, headquartered in Gulfport, Miss. Chaney, however, says since Whitney is keeping its name in Louisiana even after the merger, Whitney still holds a solid lead over Iberia:

By Chaney's logic, since Whitney Bank remains a state-chartered institution based in Louisiana, it retains the title of largest local bank.

"They were, temporarily, the largest Louisiana-chartered bank," Chaney said of Iberia. "But as of this weekend, Whitney Bank is the largest Louisiana-chartered bank by a decent margin."

Iberia doesn't buy any of this, because Whitney is now merely a subsidiary of Hancock, a financial institution based in Gulfport, Miss. But at 124 years old, Iberia says there's no debate that it's the oldest bank based in Louisiana and maintains that it is also still the largest bank headquartered in the state.
    Iberia also touted that fact that its recent acquisitions, Omni and Cameron, will be fully integrated in seven months, while its major competitor, Hancock, will be distracted by the Whitney merger for some time to come. "A rapid and smooth consolidation allows us to remain focused on serving clients and to continue to grow, while some of our local competitors are distracted by converting operating systems (which will take at least a year), cutting headcount, moving employees and core operations out of state and cleaning up credit issues," the company said.

Read more on the biggest bank dispute here.

For more on IberiaBank's role in the Whitney-Hancock merger, click here.