Business First Bank

b1Bank said it has reached a $211 million deal to acquire Houma-based Pedestal Bank, a move that will make it the third largest bank headquartered in Louisiana.

Under the deal, which is set to close as soon as the second quarter, Pedestal shareholders will receive about $21.8 million in cash and 7.6 million shares of b1Bank common stock. Shares of b1Bank closed at $24.42 Wednesday.

Business First Bank has officially changed its name to b1Bank, a move that reflects how the business has informally referred to itself for more than a decade.

Jude Melville, president and chief executive officer of b1Bank, said the bank stepped up usage of the shortened name about four years ago, when it moved its headquarters to downtown Baton Rouge. The bank updated its logo at the time of the move, making the “B” more prominent.

“Once we started acquiring other banks, people found ‘Business First’ intimidating,” he said. “They assumed that we didn’t do normal consumer banking, that we were a private equity company.”

Gradually, b1 became the way the bank referred to itself. The board of directors approved the name change earlier this year and it went into effect on Sunday.

“This was more of a natural fit, we didn’t pay a bunch of money for a study,” Melville said. “It’s a natural thing that’s official now.”

The bank started to rebrand its 26 branches with the new name in mid-November. That work should be completed by the end of the year.

While b1Bank will be the new name going forward, the bank’s parent company will still be called Business First Bancshares Inc. And its ticker symbol on the Nasdaq market will remain BFST. The bank’s wealth services team will continue to operate with the name Business First Wealth Solutions Group.

Customers have reacted positively to the new name, Melville said.

“We started using the name ‘Business First’ in the hopes of spurring up our business-to-business activity,” he said. “But we found that business is about our relationships, not the branding. Consumer banking is a little more branding-oriented.”

The bank, which has $2.2 billion in assets, has branches across Louisiana, including four in Baton Rouge and one in New Orleans, Lafayette, Brusly, Covington, Denham Springs, Gonzales and Port Allen.

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