Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala. is buying St. James Bancorp of Lutcher, La., for $43 million of stock.

St. James, with $152 million of assets, operates seven branches in six eastern Louisiana towns. Regions has 500 branches in six southeastern states; it would have $35 billion of assets after buying St. James and completing nine other pending acquisitions.

The St. James deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter, Regions said last week.

Sharon B. Kell, president and chief executive officer of St. James Bank and Trust Co., said its "customers, employees, and stockholders will benefit from affiliation with a strong, major, southern financial institution like Regions."

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