Magazine article American Banker

Premier Moving into New Orleans Market with Purchase of Ferruzzis' Alerion Corp

Magazine article American Banker

Premier Moving into New Orleans Market with Purchase of Ferruzzis' Alerion Corp

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Premier Bancorp, Louisiana's third largest bank company, said- Monday it will gain a toehold in New Orleans by buying Alerion Corp. for $47 million in cash.

Alerion, a privately held company owned by the Ferruzzi family of Italy, has nine offices and $341 million of assets. The deal - valued at 138% of book value - is expected to close by yearend.

Analysts said the purchase price appears fair to both parties. The transaction also is believed to have the tacit approval of Banc One Corp., the Ohio-based superregional that has an option to purchase Premier by July 1995.

Other Targets Sought

Premier, which is based in Baton Rouge and has 1.8 billion of assets, has only one branch in New Orleans.

"We will continue to seek affiliations with other financial institutions in the area that would give us the opportunity to further broaden our New Orleans coverage," said Premier chairman and chief executive G. Lee Griffin, who on Monday relinquished his title as president of the company.

Banc One chairman John McCoy has publicly indicated, a desire for a big presence in New Orleans, the state's great port city.

This has lead to speculation that he not only blessed the Alerion purchase but could be positioning himself for more. Alerion has less than 1% of total bank deposits New Orleans.

Analysts are already speculating that Banc One would seek to buy one of the city's three biggest banks - First Commerce banks - First Commerce Corp., Hibernia Corp., or Whitney Holding Corp. - should it acquire Premier. …

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