Vol 5 No. 51 - September 7, 2005

First National Bank and Trust sold

SUN PHOTO/MIKE FIELD
Whitney National Bank of New Orleans has purchased First National Bank and Trust of Manatee.

By Tom Vaught

sun staff writer

It began as a community venture with one office on Manatee and local backers and grew as the county grew. Now, First National Bank and Trust of Manatee is combining forces with another community banking venture with a similar community background.

First National Bank and Trust, with an office at 5324 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, was bought by Whitney National Bank, of New Orleans. First National Bank CEO Rip Dupont said the new owners are small compared to the mega-banks.

"Their holdings are worth about $9 billion," he said. "That's not a very large bank. It's actually categorized as a large community bank."

Dupont said Whitney Bank started expanding several years ago, buying banks in Houston, Mobile, Ala., Pensacola, Destin and Palm Harbor. He said the buyers emphasized that most of the positions within the First National group would be retained. However, when the sale was announced at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Business Card Exchange last month, they also said the bank and its branches would all be renamed Whitney Bank. He said Lois Gift, the manager of the Island branch, would definitely keep her job along with the rest of the staff.

Dupont said the board of directors at First National had their eye on Whitney Banks for a while, expressing a preference for them as a possible new owner.

"They're culturally close to us," he said. "They're a community bank like we are."

First National Bank and Trust of Manatee was founded in 1986 with a local board of directors and one bank. It has grown to five branches in Manatee County with another being built in Southwest Bradenton, one branch in Sarasota and trust representative offices in Venice and Leesburg. The Holmes Beach branch is one of three banks on Anna Maria Island.

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