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Future of bank branches uncertain

February 26, 2013

By NATHAN GREGORY
citybeat@starkvilledailynews.com

Renasant Corporation and First M&F Corporation signed a definitive merger agreement earlier this month, but any discussion on what will become of the two Starkville M&F locations is moot until acquisition closes later this year, according to Renasant representatives.

Under the agreement, which is contingent on Renasant and M&F shareholder approval and regulatory approval, Renasant would acquire M&F, changing the name of all M&F Bank locations to Renasant locations.

Renasant opened two temporary locations when the corporation entered the Starkville market in November 2011 — a teller location on Russell Street and administrative offices in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. Construction on a new main office began last year and was expected to be complete in late summer or early fall, Starkville Division President Tommy Tomlinson said.

M&F Bank also has two locations, one on University Drive and another on Miss. Highway 12 in west Starkville.

Tomlinson said while the two entities remained separate under their definitive agreement, Renasant administration could not make decisions in relation to closing or moving an M&F location, so it was not clear in the near future if the Starkville locations would be affected. Tomlinson added that in Mississippi there were only a few communities that had a location for both banks.

“What it does for us as a company besides the new locations we would get into is that M&F has some great locations and they’ve got some wonderful people that we would be able to bring into our staffing model,” Tomlinson said.

According to Renasant Director of External Affairs John Oxford, M&F customers would not be affected by the merger until it had been agreed upon by both party boards and has been granted regulatory approval.

“Any current M&F customers should continue banking the way they always have,” Oxford said. “We will let (customers) know when the merger has been agreed upon, then they’ll start to receive cards and information about their new bank.”

Oxford said he expected the acquisition to be finalized in July during the third business quarter of the year.

“You never know what can happen with regulators and transitioning … but we do expect it to be in the third quarter and we are aiming for July,” he said.

Renasant representatives began planning for the Starkville main office now under construction long before discussion between the corporation and M&F regarding a merger materialized, Tomlinson said, meaning the fact that the new location would open shortly after the acquisition became final was purely coincidental.

Tomlinson echoed Oxford’s view that transition for M&F customers to Renasant would be seamless.

“They’ll get plenty of notice (and) it will be a very smooth transition,” he said. “This is nothing new in the banking industry, the merger of one bank into another. The customers are what we’ve got to keep in mind. I know there are people who are anxious about what is going to happen, (but) we’re looking forward to the addition of some very key personnel to our Starkville staff.”

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