First Bancshares in Hattiesburg, Miss., has agreed to buy Mortgage Connection in Jackson, Miss.

The $1.1 billion-asset First did not disclose financial terms. The deal is expected to close early next month.

Mortgage Connection employs 14 mortgage loan originators and runs offices in Jackson, Brandon and Madison, Miss. Margaret Byrd, co-founder of Mortgage Connection, will join The First as senior vice president of mortgage banking.

"This is a great opportunity for our bank to enter a fast-growing market. Expanding into the Jackson MSA is a natural fit within our strategy of developing a franchise in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana," said M. Ray Cole, First's president and CEO.

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