NEW ORLEANS - Hibernia Corp. is making a bid to acquire Delta Bank and Trust Co. a $213 million-asset institution based in nearby Belle Chasse.

Hibernia said it has options to purchase approximately 18% of the outstanding shares of Delta, and has filed an application with the Federal Reserve to acquire all of the outstanding shares.

Although Delta management has resisted Hibernia's attempts to negotiate a tax-free pooling of interests, Hibernia president and chief executive Stephen A. Hansel said he remains hopeful that such an agreement can be reached.

"The options already granted by Delta shareholders total more than all the shares held by Delta's directors and executive officers, and we believe many more shareholders favor a transaction with Hibernia," Hansel said. "Their interest is even more impressive when you consider they would receive $75 in cash for each share, which would be a taxable event."

Delta's performance in recent years has not measured up to banking industry standards in terms of loan growth, earnings, and products and services offered, Mr. Hansel said, arguing that its shareholders would benefit from a merger with Hibernia.

Separately, Hibernia said it had a definitive agreement to merge with FNB Bancshares, parent of First National Bank of Lake Providence. The two- branch bank has $54 million of assets.

Including pending mergers, Hibernia has approximately $6.9 billion of assets and 161 banking locations serving 24 parishes and 57 cities, representing more than 70% of the population of Louisiana. It would be either first, second, or third in deposit market share in 18 of these parishes.

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