One of the most aggressive bank acquirers in the Southeast has brought in a longtime community banker to help it identify future deals.

Iberiabank of Lafayette, La., said late Wednesday that it has hired J. Randolph Bryan, a former executive at First Southern Bancorp in Boca Raton, Fla., as executive vice president and director of strategic initiatives and mergers and acquisitions.

As First Southern's chief operating officer, Bryan was in charge of identifying acquisition targets in Florida and on his watch the company absorbed two failed banks. He had previously spent 13 years at the former Hibernia National Bank in New Orleans, which is now part of Capital One Financial (COF).

Iberiabank has been aggressively expanding in the Southeast through bank buyouts and it has made no secret of its intention to keep doing deals. The company has made six acquisitions since 2009 — including three deals for failed banks — and recently announced plans to by Florida Gulf Bancorp in Fort Myers. That deal is expected to close next quarter.

During an earnings conference call Thursday morning, President and Chief Executive Daryl Byrd said the company is continuing to scout for bank deals, though he did not specify locations when pressed by analysts. He has said previously that his goal is to build a regional franchise stretching from Virginia to Texas.

He added, however, that he is fielding a lot of calls these days from smaller banks that are looking to partner with larger institutions. "We are seeing more in-bound calling than I can ever remember. This environment is creating a phenomenon where people are asking themselves what the future looks like."

Iberiabank's first-quarter earnings jumped 12% from the previous quarter and 32% from a year earlier to $19.4 million. Lower loan-loss provisions, higher interest income and a $3 million gain on investment sales helped drive the gains, though earnings were offset somewhat by higher operating expenses that included a recent marketing campaign, additional staff hires and recent acquisition costs.

Iberiabank said during the earnings call that its fairly new capital markets and wealth advisors divisions are near break-even and should help drive fee-based revenues in 2012.

In midday trading Thursday Iberiabank's shares were down 3.4%, to $51.74.

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