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First Horizon upbeat about IBERIABANK deal projections 1 month later

After a few weeks of planning for its integration with IBERIABANK Corp., First Horizon National Corp. believes the companies' initial cost savings projection is "on the conservative end," Chairman, President and CEO D. Bryan Jordan said.

"We've done a lot of work further validating our expectations about" cultural fit and cost savings, Jordan said at an investor conference on Dec. 11. "I am more confident today in our ability to achieve the $170 million" that the companies projected when they announced their merger of equals on Nov. 4, he said. The estimate amounts to about 9% of the companies' combined expenses.

Jordan said First Horizon easily beat its cost savings projection in its last bank deal, a $2.18 billion acquisition of Capital Bank Financial Corp. in late 2017. He added that the target in the IBERIABANK deal was set to be achievable so "we don't put ourselves in a position that we have to make bad decisions about how we do business."

The banks expect to file merger applications with the Federal Reserve and Tennessee regulators "in the next week or so," Jordan said, and they have started the process of naming employees to their next "layer of market leadership." Jordan is to serve as the combined companies' CEO.

Jordan also touted First Horizon's nearly simultaneous deal to acquire 30 branches and $2.4 billion of deposits being divested as part of the merger of equals that created Truist Financial Corp. He said the branch acquisition would be immediately accretive, allowing First Horizon to pay off high-cost deposits and lower its cost of funds.

He also said the acquired branches, mostly in North Carolina, would vastly accelerate the bank's expansion.

"In the Chapel Hill-Durham area, or the Winston-Salem area, we're putting in place with one transaction probably 20 years' worth of work in building de novo branches," he said.

First Horizon expects the branch deal to close early in the second quarter of 2020, before the merger with IBERIABANK.