River Road Financial Corporation and Mississippi River Bank Announce Strategic Acquisition and Expansion in New Orleans



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NEW ORLEANS – River Road Financial Corporation (River Road), a Louisiana corporation that was formed by a group of New Orleans-based investors for the purpose of facilitating the acquisition of a commercial bank, announced on Monday, Jan. 7, the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Mississippi River Bank, a Louisiana state bank headquartered in Belle Chasse. Details were shared in a press release.

Upon completion of the proposed private transaction, which became official on Dec. 20, Mississippi River Bank will continue to operate from its existing banking offices in Belle Chasse and Port Sulphur, Louisiana, but will also seek to expand its market presence in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area, commencing with the establishment of a new branch office on Veterans Memorial Boulevard near Causeway Boulevard in Metairie.

In conjunction with the proposed transaction, River Road will seek to raise a minimum of $50 million through the sale of newly issued shares of its common stock to certain accredited and institutional investors, both at the local and national level.

The proceeds of the offering will be used to fund the cash merger consideration to be paid to the shareholders of Mississippi River Bank and to provide additional working capital to Mississippi River Bank to support its anticipated growth and expansion in the Greater New Orleans MSA.

The management team of Mississippi River Bank will be led by a 42-year banking veteran, Alton McRee, who will serve as the chief executive officer of the bank holding company and the bank. Mike Bush, a 48-year banking veteran (including the last 35 years as president and chief executive officer of Mississippi River Bank), will continue to serve as president following completion of the proposed transaction.

Together, the bank’s proposed chief executive officer and president have 90 years of combined commercial lending and banking experience, including 63 years at the chief executive officer level. Lisa Works, who currently serves as chief financial officer of the bank, will continue to serve in that capacity. The existing branch locations of Mississippi River Bank will remain fully-operational and all existing employees of the bank will be retained to ensure continuity of service and relationships with existing customers.

Upon completion of the proposed transaction, the board of directors of Mississippi River Bank will be reconstituted to include a number of experienced business leaders in the Greater New Orleans market. The board will be led by Paul Aucoin, the executive director of the Port of South Louisiana, who will serve as chairman. Other leadership positions of the board include local business leader, Paul Klein, Jr., who will serve as vice chairman; and lifelong commercial banking and investment banking professional, Robert Goldstein, who will serve as lead director.

Bush and Works will also continue to serve as directors of the bank upon completion of the proposed transaction.

“We consider this a partnership rather than an acquisition,” said Aucoin. “Mike Bush and Lisa Works have a long-standing history of operating Mississippi River Bank as one of the most profitable and top performing banks in Louisiana, and have done so in a safe, sound and compliant manner. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with them as we seek to expand the bank’s success in the New Orleans MSA.”

“Mississippi River Bank’s existing locations in the New Orleans MSA make this a particularly appealing opportunity,” said McRee. “With the enhanced capital from River Road, we will employ state-of-the-art technology, an expanded service area and an enhanced management and banking team to position the bank for growth.”

McRee said the group plans to raise the $50 million from a combination of local and national investors, along with private equity firms.

“This is an exciting partnering opportunity for our customers, shareholders and employees,” said Bush. “Mississippi River Bank has a very solid foundation and record of performance for nearly 40 years. With the additional capital and growth opportunities, the bank’s customers, shareholders and employees will continue to be beneficiaries of the bank’s commitment to expanded banking products and services to the communities of Southeast Louisiana.”

“As we progress with this transaction, we will be engaged with local investors as well as national institutional investors,” said Goldstein. “Both these groups have strong synergies and we fully expect our local investors to become a valuable resource that will enable us to grow with the communities we serve. Our national investors are expected to provide us with the finest banking resources that will enhance our ability to continue operating the bank with the same success as it has had in the past.”

The definitive agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both River Road and Mississippi River Bank. River Road’s stock offering will begin in January 2019 and related transaction to acquire Mississippi River Bank is expected to close during the second quarter of 2019. The transactions are subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of the necessary regulatory approvals.

Brean Capital, LLC, based in New York, New York, will serve as the sole placement agent for the offering. Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford, LLP is serving as legal advisor to River Road Financial Corporation and American Planning Corporation is serving as its financial advisor. Kantrow, Spaht, Weaver & Blitzer, LLP is serving as legal advisor to Mississippi River Bank.

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