Hancock Holding Co.'s deal for American Security Bancshares, Ville Platte, La., is back on.

Hancock, a $2.7 billion-asset banking company based in Gulfport, Miss., announced last April that it would buy $230 million-asset American Security for $59 million of stock. But Hancock terminated the deal in August when it discovered that American Security had not been able to renew a lease on its branch in Alexandria, La.

American Security sued, claiming Hancock had backed out of the agreement unlawfully. Now the two companies have reached a tentative out-of-court settlement that includes renewing the merger accord, a spokesman for Hancock said.

The new agreement, announced Friday, calls for the companies to finalize a price and other terms by Oct. 16. They hope to close the deal by the end of the first quarter.

Hancock has acquired six banks in Louisiana since 1989. Buying American Security would boost its holdings there to 56 branches and about $1.2 billion of assets.

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