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Bank merger passed: B&K shareholders approve acquisition

NATCHEZ — A Louisiana bank’s acquisition of Britton & Koontz bank took a big step forward Thursday following overwhelming approval at a shareholder’s meeting in Natchez.

The long-time Natchez bank announced in November it would be acquired by Home Bancorp, the holding company for Home Bank of Lafayette, for $34.5 million.

The B&K shareholder’s approved the acquisition Thursday.

“We are pleased that our shareholders have overwhelmingly approved the merger and look forward to serving our communities with the combined resources of Home Bank and Britton & Koontz Bank,” B&K President and Chief Executive Officer Page Ogden said in a press release.

The next step in the process is regulatory approval, Home Bancorp Chief Financial Officer Joseph Zanco said.

“The feeling we got (Thursday) was consistent with the way we’ve been treated since we got into town, and that was overwhelming support by the shareholders,” Zanco said. “We’re hoping regulatory approval comes before the end of the month, after which we will schedule a transaction closing date where everyone does final sign offs.”

Home Bancorp has 23 locations in the Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas. B&K has three locations in Natchez, three in Baton Rouge and two in Vicksburg.

The deal will be Home Bancorp’s first expansion outside of Louisiana.

If approved by regulators, Zanco said a system conversion is scheduled for mid-March when B&K signs and other services would be replaced with Home Bancorp materials.

“One of the things you don’t want to do in these situations is change the signage out too soon and confuse people,” Zanco said. “All checks can be used until it’s time to reorder, then they’ll be swapped out for our checks.”

Zanco said Home Bancorp conversion teams have been in Natchez since November and will remain in town until the closing of the merger.

Zanco declined to comment on the status of nearly 30 B&K employees who have been told they will be let go in March.

“Out of respect for those employees, I would prefer to not comment on that specifically,” Zanco said. “Every employee understands what their ongoing role will or will not be with the company.”

B&K got its start in 1838 when brothers William A. Britton and Audley C. Britton, and businessman George M. Koontz, founded a private banking firm; the owners consolidated their interests and organized Britton & Koontz Bank in 1866.

Home Bank was chartered in 1908 as Home Building and Loan.