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Patterson asserts ‘fundamental strengths’ essential to success

Recapping 2006 and first-quarter 2007 highlights, BancorpSouth chairman and CEO Aubrey Patterson summarized key expansion and business development strategies — as well as fundamental strengths — at the company’s recent annual meeting of shareholders in Tupelo.

A notable highlight of the first quarter was the March 1 completion of BancorpSouth’s acquisition of City Bancorp, the parent company of The Signature Bank, headquartered in Springfield, Mo., with assets of more than $850 million and offices in Springfield and the suburbs of St. Louis.

Commenting on 2006, Patterson said that in dealing with the shifting cross currents of the operating environment of the past year, “the fundamental strengths of BancorpSouth” were essential to the company’s success. These fundamentals as outlined by Patterson include the company’s team of colleagues; its geographic and customer diversity; its asset liability expertise; spread management and non-interest revenue strategies; its internal growth; its acquisition capabilities; and, its conservative business model.

During 2006, Patterson said that BancorpSouth continued to build for additional long-term profitable growth by expanding both the traditional banking franchise and insurance operations.

“Through consistent implementation of our expansion strategies, based on organic growth complemented by selective strategic acquisition, we opened seven full-service banking offices and seven loan production offices during 2006,” Patterson observed. “We expanded our six-state franchise through entry into Florida in the third quarter last year, buying a charter for our new full service bank in Destin.”

From a marketing standpoint, Patterson said the company began the year with an “aggressive multimedia campaign that reinforces our brand reputation,” and that BancorpSouth continues to innovate with what he deemed “customer-focused solutions.”

“I’m proud to say that our bank was the first in the nation to both pilot, and now offer live, mobile banking with AT&T Mobility’s wireless service,” Patterson said. “This is another example of our company being on the leading edge of technology-driven initiatives to make it easier and more convenient to do business with us. “

Patterson said this is important, as banking of the future will increasingly be done via electronic media, and that the company will be well positioned for that evolution.

Patterson touched on the recent Toyota announcement to locate a new plant just northwest of the company’s headquarters city of Tupelo. Initially, the plant is expected to create 2,000 new jobs for the region.

Looking at 2007, Patterson delineated several major strategic initiatives. One is the continued pursuit of new market entries, including both de novo as well as strategic, contiguous market acquisitions that offer attractive demographics and can contribute to overall growth, profitability and shareholder value.

Additionally, BancorpSouth is looking at the creation of new management initiatives for organic growth of deposits and quality loans. Effective management of net interest margin is another area of focus, as is increasing existing share of wallet while growing the overall client base.

Patterson said that BancorpSouth will also work on continued promotion of a consistent brand message across company lines, and will continue to leverage its “industry-leading position” in electronic payment technology, focusing on “efficient and profitable initiatives such as remote deposit capture services.” Diversifying and growing non-interest revenue as a percentage of total revenue is another goal.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Karen Kahler Holliday at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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