A group of New Orleans investors have reached a deal to acquire Belle Chasse-based Mississippi River Bank with plans to expand its operations into Metairie.

River Road Financial Corp. said it expects to complete its purchase of Mississippi River Bank by the second quarter, pending regulatory approval. Plans are to keep the branches in Belle Chasse and Port Sulphur operating under the Mississippi River Bank name and to retain all 22 employees.

A location at 3005 Veterans Memorial Blvd. has been secured to build a “café-style” bank branch at the site, which will open in the second half of 2019. Between 12 and 15 people will be hired to work in that branch, said Alton McRee, the veteran banking official who heads up River Road.

River Road is trying to raise $50 million by selling stock to certain accredited and institutional investors. Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay a cash merger consideration to Mississippi River shareholders and to provide additional working capital.

“There has been a continual consolidation of community banks in Louisiana and nationwide,” McRee said. “Community banks are extremely important to local businesses as well as consumers and with the landscape changes that have occurred in the New Orleans metro area, there’s a need for an expansion with the community banks.”

McRee has 42 years of experience in the banking industry, most recently serving as president and CEO of Fidelity Bank from 2010 to 2017. He will serve as CEO of River Road Financial and Mississippi River Bank. Mike Bush, another longtime bank executive, will continue to serve as president of Mississippi River Bank.

Plans are to change the makeup of the bank board. Paul Aucoin, executive director of the Port of South Louisiana in LaPlace, will serve as chairman; Paul Klein Jr., a Metairie businessman, vice chairman; Robert Goldstein, a commercial and investment banker, lead director, with McRee, Bush and Lisa Works, the bank's chief financial officer, also serving on the board.

River Road started working with Mississippi River Bank about three or four months ago on a sale deal.

“They’re very solid bank financially with a good customer base,” McRee said. “The earnings are very solid.”

Mississippi River was established in October 1980 and had $118 million in assets, $104 million in deposits and $64 million in loans as of Sept. 30, the most recent figures available.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.