Renasant Corp. in Tupelo, Miss., has agreed to buy Heritage Financial Group in Albany, Ga., for roughly $258 million.

The all-stock deal would strengthen the $5.7 billion-asset Renasant's presence throughout the Southeast, the company said in a press release Wednesday. The purchase price of $27 a share is equal to 169% of Heritage's tangible book value.

"This merger between Renasant and Heritage adds branch and mortgage locations to our legacy markets of Birmingham and Atlanta while providing for our entry into several attractive new markets in Alabama, Georgia and Florida," said E. Robinson McGraw, Renasant's chairman and chief executive, in the release.

Renasant said in a regulatory filing that the deal, set to close by the third quarter of next year, should immediately to its earnings and produce double-digit accretion in 2016. The company said it should earn back tangible book value dilution within two years.

The company said it expects to incur about $30 million in merger-related expenses, including costs tied to the elimination of certain employee benefit plans. Renasant added that it will cut 20% of Heritage's operating costs, with most of those cuts taking place next year.

Under the agreement, O. Leonard Dorminey, president and CEO of the $1.7 billion-asset Heritage, would join Renasant as president of the company's Georgia region. He would also serve as an executive vice president.

McGraw said in an October interview that Renasant was actively looking to buy banks with $500 million to $2.5 billion in assets, with a preference for institutions in states where it already had branches.

"Right now, we fell like there's still a lot of opportunity for in-market mergers," McGraw said. "We feel like they are preferable to us as long as we can do them, though we'll venture outside that area at some point in time."

Renasant has 120 locations in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Heritage operates 36 branches in Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Renasant was advised by Raymond James & Associates and received legal counsel from Phelps Dunbar. Heritage received advice from Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and the law firm of Alston & Bird.

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