Hancock, Whitney shareholders vote to merge

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After overwhelming stockholder support to turn two century old banks into one, officials hope to send a powerful message to potential investors. Friday, in separate meetings, Hancock Bank shareholders and Whitney Bank shareholders both voted in favor of merging.

Hancock Bank officials say the nearly unanimous approval should go over well on Wall Street. Hancock recently held a stock offering to raise $200 million in capital for the transaction with Whitney.

"We had over three times the subscriptions that we need, which means over three times the number of people wanted to buy in the resulting company, Hancock, as part of this transaction than we really needed. So we scaled everybody back down to just the $200 million we needed," Hancock Bank Chief Financial Officer Carl Chaney said.

"But anytime, particularly in these difficult and challenging economic times, that you have an offering that's oversubscribed, meaning more people want to come in than you need, is the ultimate positive message that you can send to Wall Street, or Wall Street sends to us."

The merger still needs approval from federal regulators. But Hancock and Whitney officials say they expect to close the merger some time in May.

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