Fitch Affirms Hancock Holding Co's Ratings at 'BBB'/'F2' Following Peer Review; Outlook Stable

  Fitch Affirms Hancock Holding Co's Ratings at 'BBB'/'F2' Following Peer
  Review; Outlook Stable

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- February 5, 2014

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the ratings of Hancock Holding Company's (HBHC) at
'BBB+'/'F2'. The Rating Outlook remains Stable. The affirmation and Stable
Outlook reflect HBHC's solid franchise, good asset quality and earnings in
line with its rating category. A full list of rating actions is at the end of
this rating action commentary.

KEY RATING DRIVERS - IDRS, VRs, AND SENIOR DEBT

Asset quality improved during 2013 and remains in line with its rated peers.
Fitch calculated NPAs declined by approximately 100bps while net charge-offs
(NCOs) showed modest declines from 2012. Fitch expects continued reductions to
NPA levels in the near term and credit costs to remain in line with its rated
peer group.

Earnings performance historically has been a rating weakness for the company.
However, HBHC's earnings improved considerably in 2013 and now rank in the
middle of the peer group. Fitch believes that HBHC has the capacity to
continue to improve earnings as continued integration with the Whitney Bank
acquisition will allow the company to realize cost savings over the near- to
medium-term. Further earnings improvement could lead to positive ratings
pressure.

Capital levels are relatively flat year over year despite HBHC's share
repurchase program. Fitch expects HBHC to manage its capital position near its
current level. Should capital levels be managed at materially lower levels,
HBHC's ratings would be revisited.

RATING SENSITIVITIES - IDRS, VRs, AND SENIOR DEBT

Fitch believes there is upside potential to HBHC's ratings as core
profitability improves. Positive ratings momentum assumes a stable risk
profile, lower NPAs and relatively stable capital levels. Risks to the ratings
include the pursuit of another large acquisition, or if Fitch were to surmise
that the company was reducing pricing and terms and conditions to win large
amounts of new business, which could impact profitability and credit costs
over time.

KEY RATING DRIVERS - SUBORDINATED DEBT AND OTHER HYBRID SECURITIES

HBHC's subordinated debt is notched below its Viability rating (VR) to reflect
loss severity and an assessment of incremental non-performance risk.

RATING SENSITIVITIES - SUBORDINATED DEBT AND OTHER HYBRID SECURITIES

HBHC's subordinated debt rating is sensitive to changes in HBHC's VR. Rating
sensitivities for the VR are listed above.

SUBSIDIARY AND AFFILIATED COMPANY KEY RATING DRIVERS

HBHC's subsidiaries' ratings are aligned with the company, which reflects
Fitch's view that the bank subsidiary is core to the franchise.

SUBSIDIARY AND AFFILIATED COMPANY RATING SENSITIVITIES

HBHC's subsidiaries ratings are sensitive to changes to HBHC's VR or any
changes to Fitch's view of structural subordination between bank subsidiary
and holding company. Rating sensitivities for the VR are listed above.

KEY RATING DRIVERS - SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR

HBHC's Support Rating and Support Rating Floor of '5' and 'NF' reflect Fitch's
view that the company is unlikely to procure extraordinary support should such
support be needed.

KEY RATING SENSITIVITIES- SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR

HBHC's Support Rating and Support Rating Floor are sensitive to Fitch's
assumption as to ability to procure extraordinary support in case of need.

Fitch reviewed HBHC's ratings as part of the mid-tier regional bank review.
The 19 banks in today's review include: Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC), BOK
Financial Corp (BOKF), Cathay General Bancorp (CATY), City National Bancorp
(CYN),Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc (CFR), East West Bancorp, Inc. (EWBC), First
Horizon National Corp (FHN), First National of Nebraska, Inc. (FNNI), First
Niagara Financial Group, Inc. (FNFG), First Republic Bank (FRC), First Merit
(FMER), Fulton Financial Corp (FULT), Hancock Holding Company (HBHC), People's
United Financial, Inc. (PBCT), Synovus Financial Corp (SNV), TCF Financial
Corp (TCB), UMB Financial Corporation (UMB), Webster Financial Corp (WBS),
Wintrust (WTFC).

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings with a Stable Outlook:

Hancock Holding Company

--Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB+'; Stable Outlook;

--Short-term IDR at 'F2';

--Viability at 'bbb+';

--Support at '5';

--Support floor at 'NF'.

Hancock Bank

--Long-term IDR at 'BBB+'; Stable Outlook;

--Long-term deposits at 'A-';

--Short-term deposits at 'F1';

--Short-term IDR at 'F2';

--Viability at 'bbb+';

--Support at '5';

--Support floor at 'NF'.

Whitney Bank

--Long term IDR at 'BBB+'; Stable Outlook;

--Short-term IDR at 'F2';

--Long-term deposits at 'A-';

--Short-term Deposits at 'F1';

--Subordinated debt at 'BBB';

--Viability at 'bbb+';

--Support at '5';

--Support Floor at 'NF'.

Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

2014 Outlook: U.S. Banks (Nov 21, 2013)

U.S. Banks: Liquidity and Deposit Funding (Aug 08, 2013)

U.S. Banks: Interest Rate Risks (What Happens When Rates Rise) (Jun 18, 2013)

U.S. Bank Mergers and Acquisitions -- When Will The Catalysts Kick In? (Jul
11, 2013)

Global Trading and Universal Banks - Periodic Review (Dec 12, 2013)

Fitch Fundamentals Index - U.S.; Index Trend Analysis 4Q13 (Jan15, 2014)

Risk Radar Global - Q313 (Sep 05, 2013)

Fitch Global Corporate Rating Activity - Third Quarter 2013 (Dec 5, 2013)

U.S. Banking Quarterly Comment: 4Q13 (Earnings Continue to Tick Up, but
Challenges Remain) (Jan 27, 2014)

Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria (Jan 31, 2014)

Assessing and Rating Bank Subordinated and Hybrid Securities (Jan 31, 2014)

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Assessing and Rating Bank Subordinated and Hybrid Securities Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=732137

Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=732397

U.S. Banking Quarterly Comment: 4Q13 (Earnings Continue to Tick Up, but
Challenges Remain)

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=732295

Fitch Global Corporate Rating Activity - Third-Quarter 2013

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=720480

Risk Radar Global - Q313

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=717023

Global Trading and Universal Banks - Periodic Review

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=726150

U.S. Bank Mergers and Acquisitions -- When Will The Catalysts Kick In?

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=712539

U.S. Banks: Interest Rate Risks (What Happens When Rates Rise)

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=710875

U.S. Banks: Liquidity and Deposit Funding

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=714196

2014 Outlook: U.S. Banks

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=723989

Fitch Fundamentals Index

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=729196

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status

http://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=819716

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Contact:

Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst
Jaymin Berg, CPA, +1-212-908-0368
Director
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
One State Street Plaza
New York, NY 10004
or
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Managing Director
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