Whitney Holding posts quarterly loss of $92.5M

NEW ORLEANS — Regional banker Whitney Holding Corp., in line to be acquired by one of its Gulf Coast rivals, posted a $92.6-million loss in the fourth quarter as it moved to unload problem loans, the company reported yesterday.

The per-share loss totaled 96 cents. In the year-ago fourth quarter, Whitney lost $3.7 million, or 4 cents per share.

On Dec. 21, Gulfport-based Hancock Holding Co. said it would buy Whitney in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at about $1.5 billion. The acquisition, which needs approval by shareholders of both companies and banking regulators, is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter.

Whitney said it sold $179 million of nonperforming loans for $88 million and also marked another $124 million in nonperforming loans as being for sale with an estimated value of $75 million.

Total loans dropped to $7.23 billion from the year-ago figure of $8.43 billion. Interest income fell to $104.1 million from $111.4 million, while noninterest income — the product of fees — rose to $31.8 million from $28.7 million a year ago.

Whitney chief executive John Hope III said with the exclusion of possible merger expenses, he expected the company to have a profitable first quarter and for Whitney “to contribute meaningfully to the long-term success of the Hancock-Whitney combination.”

For 2010, Whitney lost $158 million, or $1.64 per share, deeper than a 2009 loss of $78.4 million, or $1.08 per share.

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