Premier Bancorp expanded its foothold in New Orleans by purchasing $260 million in deposits and nine offices from the failed Oak Tree Federal Savings Bank.

Baton Rouge-based Premier said Friday it paid $25.9 million, representing a 10% premium, to the Resolution Trust Corp. for the Oak Tree deposits. Oak Tree had been under RTC conservatorship since Oct. 1991.

With this latest purchase, Premier will have 23 branches in New Orleans, up from two in less than a year.

The $5.4 billion-asset bank made its first significant acquisition in Louisiana's port city in July 1993, when it purchased Alerion Corp., which contributed $341 million of assets and nine offices.

The ultimate beneficiary of this franchise is likely to be Banc One Corp., Columbus, Ohio, which has an option to purchase Premier at 125% of book value between June 30, 1995 and March 31, 1997. Banc One chairman John McCoy has previously expressed a desire to establish a major presence in New Orleans.

Premier itself has been an active acquirer in Louisiana's rapidly consolidating banking market, picking up three community banks in the northern part of the state since the beginning of the year.

Premier acquired the largest piece of Oak Tree in an RTC auction that attracted seven winning bidders. The second-largest piece went to Regions Financial Corp., Birmingham, which picked up $44 million of deposits in Baton Rouge and Houma.

Five community banks purchased Oak Tree's remaining $67 million of deposits.

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