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New leaders at Cadence

March 8, 2011

Paul Sims/SDN Cadence Bank President Mark Abernathy speaks as bank officials unveiled several new approaches Monday in the wake of the sale of the bank to Community Bancorp, a multi-bank holding company with Cadence as its first acquisition.

Fresh from a change in ownership and management, Cadence Bank officials say they plan to make customer service and technology enhancements with an eye toward market expansion.
On Friday, Community Bancorp – known as CBC – formally closed on its purchase of Cadence Financial Corp., Cadence's parent company. This takes the bank off the stock market and into private control.
The Starkville-based banking firm holds about $1.6 billion in assets and serves territory in Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.
The Cadence investment represents about $200 million, said CBC President Paul Murphy Jr. Monday. This is about one-fifth of the $1 billion CBC acquired for investment in banks. About $144 million of this is a fresh infusion of capital for Cadence.
Murphy says CBC is a multi-bank holding company.
"Cadence is our lead investment," he said. It is the only one so far in the group.
As far as its future growth, Murphy said: "We expect to look at every bank acquisition in the five-state region."
Bank officials "could do some acquisitions in other parts of the country that aren't bolted on" to Cadence, Murphy, who is also Cadence's chairman, said. "They may have their own separate identity and be in a different market."
On Monday, Cadence officials introduced several new approaches. These include a:
• Mobile banking platform, to include an iPhone application.
• New customer service approach. Cadence President Mark Abernathy said bank officials want to "set a new standard for customer service – memorable customer service delivered in a consistent fashion." Over the next three weeks, they'll invest about 500 training hours for employees on what it means to be personal and proactive, Abernathy said.
• $750,000 investment in information technology enhancements.
• Plan to extend hours at their telephone customer service center until 8 p.m. CDT, a move Abernathy says "makes good sense" and one Murphy said sends "a great message to customers."
• Stated intent to continue bank leaders' involvement in economic development efforts and expanded effort to provide funding for low- to moderate-income housing. Over the next 100 days, market presidents will look for organizations with which to partner over a three-to-five year period, Abernathy said.
Also on Monday, Cadence officials introduced Teresa Hemphill as the bank's new chief credit officer, saying in a statement she will focus on growing the bank's commercial loan business.
Overall, Cadence officials say they've hired 17 new people over the past three months.
Abernathy says he'll "be doing a lot of listening in our first 100 days."
Murphy said: "We're looking for business. ... We've got a robust capability."
Cadence Chairman Emeritus Lewis Mallory Jr. said he believes the bank has strong leadership and will possess capital ratios near the top in the region.
"I think Cadence Bank has a very fine future," Mallory said.

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