News alert: BR banks Business First, American Gateway to merge
The parent holding companies of Baton Rouge-based banks Business First and American Gateway have inked a definitive agreement under which American Gateway Financial Corp. will be merged with and into Business First Bancshares Inc., the banks jointly announced. Upon completion of the merger at the holding company level—which is expected in the fourth quarter and is still subject to some shareholder and regulatory approvals—American Gateway Bank will be merged with and into Business First Bank. The combined entity will operate under the Business First brand and include 16 branch locations, more than $1 billion in assets, $870 million in deposits, $700 million in loans and $100 million in equity. In a press release, officials say the merger will significantly expand both institutions' reach in the greater Baton Rouge market and Louisiana at large. The merged institution is expected to be the largest community bank headquartered in Baton Rouge as measured by deposits. "While we continue to focus on serving our growing roster of entrepreneurs and business owners, this partnership is the next step—a foundational step—toward our larger goal of being not only Louisiana's best business bank, but also the state's most impactful community bank," says Jude Melville, president and CEO of Business First Bank, in a prepared statement. Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed this morning. See the complete press release. —Steve Sanoski Read Daily Report AM for more on this story.