Texan to lead BancorpSouth

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – BancorpSouth looked outside its ranks to name a new chief executive.
James D. “Dan” Rollins III, 53, was named CEO of BancorpSouth on Monday. Since 2006, he had been president and chief operating officer of Prosperity Bancshares. The Houston, Texas-based financial holding company, whose chief subsidiary is Prosperity Bank, has 213 locations across Texas and about $13.9 billion in assets.
Rollins replaces longtime CEO Aubrey Patterson, who earlier this year said he would step down by next April. Patterson has been with BancorpSouth since 1972 and has been chairman and CEO since 1991. Rollins officially begins Wednesday. Patterson will stay on as chairman of the board through April.
Hassell Franklin, who headed the search committee, said Rollins “emerged as the leading candidate.”
Global executive search firm Spencer Stuart of Chicago helped conduct the search.
In a statement, Rollins said, “BancorpSouth is a respected financial services company in our industry with a long and distinguished record of service to its shareholders, customers and local communities. Aubrey Patterson’s 40-plus years of dedicated service have positioned BancorpSouth well. I am pleased to have this opportunity to follow Mr. Patterson, and to build on such a strong foundation of respect and accomplishment.”
Patterson was named BancorpSouth’s chairman and CEO in 1991, and has been on the board of directors since 1983. He was president and CEO from 1990 to 1991 and was president and COO from 1983 to 1990. He joined what was then the Bank of Mississippi in 1972.
“My years of service to BancorpSouth have been my life’s chosen work,” Patterson said. “Moving ahead, I look forward to working with Dan Rollins in a successful and seamless transition. I congratulate Hassell Franklin and the board’s search committee on their excellent work in selecting Dan. I believe BancorpSouth’s best years are yet to come.”
David Zalman, Prosperity’s chairman and CEO, said, “On behalf of everyone at Prosperity, we would like to thank Dan for the many contributions he has made to the organization over the years. We are excited for Dan in his new role and we wish him success in his new endeavor.”
ROLLINS’ CAREER
Rollins earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Texas in 1983, then began his banking career with First State Bank and Trust Co. in Port Lavaca and Bay City, Texas. In 1984, he joined Prosperity and began his 18-year climb up the corporate ladder.
He was president of Prosperity’s Matagorda Banking Centers from 1994 until 2002. Most recently he was president and COO of Prosperity Bank, roles he assumed in April 2006.
Rollins oversaw a rapid expansion at Prosperity. In the past year, it acquired five Texas banks. In July, it closed a $3 billion acquisition of American State Bank in Lubbock.
Some industry observers have suggested Rollins will look to grow BancorpSouth with its own acquisitions.
In a research brief, financial analyst Matt Olney of Stephens Inc., said the hiring of Rollins would remove the possibility, at least in the near-term, of a potential acquisition of BancorpSouth.
“However, given Rollins’ background of running one of the leanest banks within the industry, we expect substantial improvements in BancorpSouth’s efficiency ratio down to peer levels,” Olney wrote.
BancorpSouth has been a client of Stephens, the company disclosed. Olney’s compensation will not be related to his views in the research brief, Stephens added.
Olney also said BancorpSouth’s earnings per share could approach $1.65 a share and stock could reach $20. BancorpSouth (NYSE: BXS) shares have traded between $8.81 and $15.69 a share during the past 52 weeks. On Monday, it closed at $13.02, down 54 cents, or nearly 4 percent.
Trading volume of the bank’s stock was heavy on Monday, with more than 1.5 million shares traded. On average during the past three months, about 494,000 shares of BancorpSouth were traded daily.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com