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, acquired Liberty Holding Co., the $108 million-asset parent of Liberty Bank, and American Bank and Trust. The deal was completed Oct. 28.

Edward Grimball, chief financial officer of Whitney Holding Corp., said the deal is part of the company's plans to expand into the Florida Panhandle. The acquisition adds five Florida branches to its 71 branches in Louisiana and Alabama.

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

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

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