Hancock Holding Co. (HBHC) in Gulfport, Miss., plans to consolidate its two charters but retain separate bank brands.

The $19.3 billion-asset company plans to merge its Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank subsidiaries in the first quarter of 2014, pending regulatory approval, it said Thursday. The consolidation is intended to reduce costs, Hancock said

The two brands would remain separate, Hancock said. The $12.7 billion-asset Whitney Bank operates in Louisiana and Texas and the $6.6 billion-asset Hancock Bank in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama.

"The consolidation, which supports our previously announced expense and efficiency initiative, will significantly reduce the considerable cost and complexity of maintaining two separate bank charters in this current regulatory environment," co-CEO Carl Chaney said in a press release.

Despite intense pressure from investors to keep down expenses, Chaney said in June that the company had no plans to consolidate its charters. "The two-bank structure has worked extraordinarily well," he said at the time. Hancock paid $1.5 billion to acquire Whitney Holding, a larger company based in New Orleans, in 2011.

Other cost-cutting efforts Hancock has undertaken this year include the closure of 26 branches on Aug. 30, and the sale of 10 Whitney branches. Hancock recorded $20.9 million in one-time expenses in the third quarter on cost-cutting and efficiency efforts.

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