Business First Bancshares, a US-based holding company of Business First Bank (b1Bank), has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Pedestal Bancshares and its subsidiary Pedestal Bank for $211.2m.

The agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of the two firms.

As of 31 December last year, Business First had $2.3bn in total assets, total loans of $1.7bn, total deposits of $1.8bn and shareholders’ equity of $285.1m.

For the same period, Pedestal had $1.2bn in total assets, $900m in total loans, $1bn in total deposits and shareholders’ equity of $147.8m.

Under the terms of the deal, Pedestal’s shareholders will receive about $21.8m in cash consideration, which will be by way of a pre-closing, tax-free distribution, and around 7.6 million shares of Business First’s common stock.

Following the completion of the transaction, Pedestal shareholders will own around 36% of the combined company.

Business First president and CEO Jude Melville said: “This is a transformative, franchise-building opportunity for our company.

“Pedestal Bank has for many years been a well-managed, high performing competitor of ours, and teaming up with them grows our market share, broadens our shareholder base, and strengthens our already deep talent pool. It’s the next step in our quest to be our region’s bank of choice.”

Pedestal Bank president and CEO Mark Folse said: “Over the last 20 years, Pedestal Bank has built its success and reputation on always striving to exceed our customer’s expectations,”

“We believe this partnership is a positive move that is consistent with our pursuit of enhancing not only the customer experience but also the communities we serve. Over the years we have built relationships with the leadership team at Business First, and I am confident that our like-minded approach to customer service, employee relations, and the creation of shareholder value will present positive opportunities for all involved.”

Founded in 1999 at Louisiana, Pedestal Bank operates 22 branches across southern Louisiana.

Upon completion of the transaction, the board of directors at the merged entity will include 10 current Business First directors and four  Pedestal directors.

It is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.