Cadence Bank CEO Stepping Down

By Andy Meek

Lewis Mallory, the chairman and CEO of the holding company for Cadence Bank, is stepping down.

Mallory has served as Cadence’s CEO since 1978, leading the bank through a period in which it grew beyond its home market in northeast Mississippi to markets in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Cadence also grew from about $100 million in assets to more than $2 billion. It has about $1.6 billion today.

Cadence president Mark Abernathy is expected to be elected as CEO. Paul Murphy Jr., president of the private equity company in the process of buying Cadence, is expected to be elected Cadence’s chairman.

The news comes the same week regulators approved the deal between Cadence and Community Bancorp that will inject more than $100 million in new capital into Cadence and take the bank company private. The bank also will keep its name and identity.

The transaction is expected to close the first week in March.

Cadence has worked unsuccessfully for a few years to raise fresh capital. Regulators also asked Cadence to adhere to a turnaround plan, and time was beginning to run out on the bank recovering its footing when it first agreed to a merger last year with Trustmark Bank’s parent company, then ditched that plan for a merger with Community Bancorp.