NEW ORLEANS - A new Whitney Bank sign went up in Metairie at one of the former First NBC branches recently acquired by the New Orleans financial institution.
Whitney picked up nine branches last December and another 29 in late April after state and federal regulators seized the troubled FNBC.
"We wish First NBC still existed, but they don't," Whitney Regional President Gary Lorio said. "We're going to make the best of a situation to make sure, number one, the clients have access to banking services and that the Whitney is further committed to the New Orleans community."
Whitney is now weighing which of the former FNBC branches will remain open.
"We will still probably need 45 to 60 days before we can convert all of those new customers on to our Whitney system," Whitney Bank President Joe Exnicios said. "We hope that it continues to go as smoothly as it has so far."
Meanwhile, a team of investigators from the FDIC, Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions and other regulators continues to pore over the former FNBC's books.
They seized the bank after determining it was in "an unsafe and unsound condition."
Banking expert and Tulane Finance Professor Mark Rosa says investigators want a true picture of the bank's financials and where mistakes were made.
"If it transitions over into someone was making accounting entries that they knew to be improper and they made them anyway, that's more serious than if it was just an honest mistake," Rosa said.
At this point there have been no allegations of wrongdoing involving any officials from the former FNBC.
Rosa believes in the end, FNBC didn't have the assets to cover its liabilities due in part to a high number of bad loans.
"Their delinquency was particularly high," Rosa said. "It was far above their peers. When people aren't paying their loans back, the bank is essentially taking a hit to their capital."
Whitney officials are reassuring customers all of their deposits are safe and available.
"They can use their accounts, either Whitney or First NBC, interchangeably," Lorio said.
Whitney expects to make decisions on personnel by the end of the week.
"Our CEO John Harrison has made a pledge to all the former associates of FNBC that by Friday, May 19, we will let each of them know what their fate is with respect to their future with the Whitney Bank," Exnicios said.
Bank officials hope to offer most of those employees positions with either Whitney or its parent company Hancock Holding.
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