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
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.