A New Orleans bank holding company has established a foothold on Florida's Gulf Coast, buying the parent company of two Pensacola banks.

Whitney Holding Corp., a $3.5 billion-asset company, has completed its acquisitions of Liberty Holding Co., the $108 million-asset parent of Liberty Bank and American Bank and Trust.

Edward Grimball, Whitney chief financial officer, said the acquisition is part of the company's plans to expand into the Florida Panhandle. The acquisition gives the bank company, which has 71 branches in Louisiana and Alabama, five branches in Florida.

Since Florida does not allow out-of-state banks to operate only branches, Whitney received a national bank charter for Whitney National Bank of Florida.

Shareholders of Liberty Holding received $10.03 of Whitney common stock for each share that they had held; shareholders of American Bank and Trust received $19.69 of Whitney common stock for each share they owned.

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