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The First acquires Heritage Bank

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The First Bancshares, Inc., the holding company for The First Bank, announced that it has completed its previously- announced acquisition of Heritage Southeast Bancorporation, Inc. (“HSBI”) effective January 1, 2023. Following completion of the acquisition, HSBI’s subsidiary bank, Heritage Southeast Bank, was merged with The First Bank, with The First Bank as the surviving bank.

Heritage Southeast Bank’s operations include The Heritage Bank of Hinesville.

“Our merger with Heritage Southeast creates a unique community banking franchise, with meaningful market share in some of the most dynamic and fastest growing economies in the southeastern United States,” said Ray “Hoppy” Cole Jr., president, chairman and CEO of The First. “It brings together two experienced management teams who share a similar culture and commitment to serving their local communities. We are confident that together we will continue to build significant value for all of our stakeholders.”

As a result of the merger, The First Bank now has approximately $7.9 billion in total assets, $6.9 billion in total deposits and $5.0 billion in total loans. The company also now has 114 locations across Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

The Heritage Bank began as The Hinesville Bank in 1911. The bank started branching out in Liberty County in 1968 and a with a new name, The Heritage Bank, is began establishing branches outside of Liberty County in 1967.

The Heritage Bank merged in 2019 with Providence Bank and Heritage Bank under Heritage Southeast Bancorporation, Inc. HSBI has been headquartered in Jonesboro.

Along with the main office in Hinesville, The Heritage Bank also has branches in Blackshear, Brunswick, Darien, Homerville, Jesup, Ludowici, Nahunta, Pembroke, St. Marys, Statesboro and Waycross, along with a branch in Jacksonville, Fla. Branches in Rincon and Midway were closed previously.

HSBI and VyStar Credit Union were in talks for a merger beginning in 2021 but both sides agreed to end the process in June 2022. HSBI signed a sales agreement with VyStar in March 2021 and shareholders approved the sale in July 2021.

About The First Bancshares, Inc.

The First Bancshares, Inc., headquartered in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the parent company of The First Bank. Founded in 1996, the First has operations in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. The company’s stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol FBMS. Additional information is available on the Company’s website: www.

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