Liberty Bank & Trust in New Orleans has received regulatory approval to buy First Tuskegee Bank in Alabama, more than a year after the deal was first announced.

The Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions approved the deal on Dec. 23, according to a bulletin issued by the agency this week. The approval notice did not include additional details about the acquisition.

The Alabama Banking Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. have not yet approved the deal.

In July 2013, the $56 million-asset First Tuskegee approved an agreement to sell itself to the $552 million-asset Liberty Bank in a deal that would combine two minority-owned institutions. Liberty's board approved the deal in October 2013, and federal and state regulators received the merger application later that month.

Regulators and executives at the banks never disclosed the reasons for the delay in approving the acquisition. Lawyers not involved with the deal said it was very unusual for regulators to take that long to approve a merger agreement between small banks.

In documents filed with the FDIC, Liberty said the deal would allow it add more low-cost deposits, expand loans and enter Montgomery, Ala.

In the acquisition, Liberty's holding company, Liberty Financial Services, would buy Birthright Inc., the holding company for First Tuskegee. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

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