NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Hundreds of former First NBC employees who suddenly found themselves working for Whitney Bank could learn by the end of the week if they will have jobs for much longer.
A huge Whitney sign was hoisted into place in the 500 block of Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie Wednesday morning. It replaced the First NBC sign following a surprising development less than two weeks ago.
"As of April 28, we have assumed all of the physical branch locations of FNBC, all of the respective employees that were working for FNBC and all of the transaction deposits," said Whitney Bank President Joe Exnicios.
Whitney had already assumed control of nine First NBC branches in recent months.
"All of us at that time thought that would be sufficient to give them time to rebuild their management team, refocus and hopefully get back on a more steady path. They were in the process of trying to raise capital," said Exnicios.
When the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation shut down all the First NBC branches at the end of April, Whitney was tapped to help.
"We were approached by the FDIC regarding our interest in assuming certain deposits and also some assets of the FNBC. That was developed during the first transaction in December. We were able to react rather quickly, so in the second transaction, which was directly with the FDIC, we assumed approximately $1.6 billion of transaction deposits. That would be checking accounts, savings accounts NOW accounts, money market accounts," Exnicios said.
He said the FDIC stance on deposits made the option more attractive to Whitney Bank.
"There were a number of uninsured deposits in the deposit book of FNBC, so when the FDIC assured us that they would be paying all depositors it enhanced our interest in stepping forward," Exnicios added.
Whitney also assumed the 400-plus First NBC employees, at least for the time being.
"We're going to do everything we can to let people know what their fate is by [May 19], and those that we don't keep we're going to be paying a severance to help them transition to the next phase of their careers," Exnicios said.
"We have about 150 to 200 jobs a year that come open through the Hancock-Whitney franchise, so we're going to give preference to the First NBC associates to hopefully have job opportunities with our existing business," said Gary Lorio, a Whitney regional president.
And less than a block from where the Whitney sign went up outside the former First NBC branch sits another Whitney Bank on Veterans Boulevard.
"We're actually closing our former Whitney branch which is a half a block away and we're opening this branch on a go-forward basis as a Whitney Branch," said Exnicios.
White has 29 old First NBC branches.
"The main thing - no depositor lost money. That is absolutely critical, and that's really one of the reasons we got involved…We have 52 locations in the Greater New Orleans area right now, with the First NBC locations, that's over 80 locations," said Lorio.