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Hancock Holding (HBHC) to Divest Consumer Finance Unit

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Hancock Holding Company announced that its banking subsidiary, Whitney Bank, has entered into an agreement with First Tower Finance Company, LLC, to sell its consumer finance company — Harrison Finance.

Though financial terms of the transaction remain undisclosed, the deal is expected to close in about 90 days. Also, it remains subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Founded in 1984, Harrison Finance operates through 35 offices that are located across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. With a headcount of 137 employees, the consumer finance company had loans of about $95 million as of Dec 31, 2017.

Per John M. Hairston, President and CEO of Hancock, the decision to sell this unit was in line with the company’s “updated strategic plans”.

Notably, Hancock’s strong balance sheet position keeps it well poised to undertake growth initiatives. Further, the company remains committed to enhance its core revenue by making several investments.

In December 2017, it agreed to acquire the trust and asset management business of Capital One, National Association, a banking subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corporation (COF - Free Report) . Upon completion of the deal, the combined firm is expected to have annual revenues of nearly $70-$75 million, assets under administration of approximately $26 billion and assets under management of $10 billion.

In May 2017, Hancock acquired $1.6 billion in deposits and about $1 billion in assets, which include net cash of approximately $600 million of First NBC Bank, a subsidiary of First NBC Bank Holding Company from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Further, the bank acquired 29 branch locations.

Shares of Hancock have gained 10.7% over the past year, outperforming the 5.9% growth for the industry it belongs to.

The stock sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

A couple of other stocks in the same space worth considering are Regions Financial Corporation (RF - Free Report) and FCB Financial Holdings , both carrying a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Regions Financial has been revised 16.5% upward for the current year in the last 30 days. The company’s share price has increased 28.3% in the past year.

FCB Financial has witnessed 13.1% upward earnings estimate revision for 2018 in the last 30 days. Its share price has surged 13.6% in the past year.

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