First Bancshares to acquire Heritage Southeast Bancorporation for $207m

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Mississippi-based First Bancshares has agreed to acquire rival American bank holding company Heritage Southeast Bancorporation in an all-stock deal worth around $207 million.

First Bancshares is the parent company of The First Bank, while Heritage Southeast Bancorporation owns the Heritage Southeast Bank, based in Jonesboro, Georgia.

The deal is expected to deepen the footprint of First Bancshares in Georgia and Florida. This includes entry points into the Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Savannah markets.

Heritage Southeast Bank has 23 branches in Georgia and northeast Florida.

As of 30 June 2022, the bank had total assets of around $1.7 billion, $1.1 billion in total loans, and total deposits of nearly $1.5 billion.

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Upon closing of the deal, the combined banking company is likely to have nearly $8 billion in assets, deposits of $7 billion, $5 billion in loans, and more than 100 branches in five states in the US Southeast.

M. Ray “Hoppy” Cole, Jr. — First Bancshares President and CEO said: “The announcement today of our proposed merger with HSBI and the upcoming closing of our merger with Beach Bank represent continued execution on our strategic plan of creating a high performing community bank in the Southeast.

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“Individually, each transaction is extremely attractive and enhances our organizations’ franchise value. Collectively, they are transformative for our company providing meaningful market share in some of the most dynamic, fastest growing markets in the South.”

Under the terms of the deal, Heritage Southeast Bancorporation’s shareholders will exchange each of their shares for 0.965 of First Bancshares’ shares.

Leonard A. Moreland — Heritage Southeast Bancorporation CEO said: “We are proud to join The First, which has a similar culture and approach to business as Heritage Southeast Bank. This partnership will add to the momentum that both banks are already experiencing in Georgia and Florida.

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“As a group of lifelong community bankers, the Heritage Southeast Bank team is looking forward to continuing to provide outstanding service to our loyal customers, to be an employer of choice, and to expand our product offerings in support of our communities.”

The deal has been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of the two bank holding companies.

It is likely to close in Q4 2022 or Q 2023 after obtaining regulatory approvals, both the companies’ shareholders’ approvals and other customary conditions.

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