First Bancshares Inc. in Hattiesburg, Miss., said Monday that it had expanded along the Gulf Coast after buying eight branches that had belonged to Whitney National Bank.

The $700 million-asset company said in a press release that seven of the branches are in Mississippi while the remaining branch is in Bogalusa, La. The purchase nearly doubles the company's branches to 18; a price was not disclosed.

The branches were sold as part of Hancock Holding Co.'s acquisition of Whitney, which had been based in New Orleans. Hancock, which is based in Gulfport, Miss., bought Whitney in June.

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