Mississippi's Renasant To Buy Georgia Bank For $59M In Stock

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi-based regional bank Renasant Corp. will acquire Georgia-based KeyWorth Bank for $59 million in stock.

         The banks announced the merger Tuesday, just after Tupelo-based Renasant announced its quarterly earnings.

         The merger will bulk up the presence of Renasant in Atlanta's affluent northern suburbs. Renasant has been gobbling up other banks, acquiring seven in the past 11 years.

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         "We believe this combination will be additive to Renasant's growing Georgia franchise and will provide us with additional scale and commercial banking expertise in the Atlanta market," Renasant Chairman and CEO E. Robinson McGraw said in a statement.

         KeyWorth, based in Johns Creek, Georgia, has $389 million in assets and four branches. Its addition would boost Renasant over $1 billion in deposits in metro Atlanta, and over $1.7 billion in deposits in Georgia. That would raise Renasant to the 15th largest bank in Georgia by deposits, according to federal figures.

         Arkansas-based Bank of the Ozarks announced a much larger merger Monday with a Georgia bank, paying $800 million to acquire the Atlanta-based parent of Community & Southern Bank, which has $4.4 billion in assets.

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         In July, Renasant took over Heritage Bank of the South, formerly based in Albany, Georgia, paying $254 million in stock to greatly expand its Georgia presence and to push into Florida for the first time.

         Renasant said the new merger would give it $8.2 billion in assets and 175 offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

         The banks said they hope to complete the merger before March, pending approval by regulators and KeyWorth shareholders. KeyWorth CEO Jim Pope and Chief Operating Officer Neil Stevens are supposed to remain. Renasant said it will expand KeyWorth's business by offering a larger set of services to customers.

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         Renasant said the acquisition would boost profits in the first full year, factoring out a projected $7.4 million in merger costs, with plans to cut 25 percent of KeyWorth's current costs through consolidation.




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