BancorpSouth in Tupelo, Miss., has received a “satisfactory” rating in its latest Community Reinvestment Act exam — a possible shot in the arm for its M&A plans.

The upgrade was based on the $14.8 billion-asset bank’s “outstanding” performance on the service test and “high satisfactory” ratings on the lending and investment tests, BancorpSouth said in a regulatory filing Tuesday.

Last year the bank’s lead federal regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., had retroactively lowered its rating from its 2013 CRA exam to “needs to improve” from “satisfactory.” The downgrade occurred after BancorpSouth’s nearly $11 million settlement with the Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to resolve claims it violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act.

The downgrade and Bank Secrecy Act compliance issues led to delays of BancorpSouth’s acquisitions of Central Community Corp. in Temple, Texas, and Ouachita Bancshares in Monroe, La. The company refiled its merger applications in August.

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Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart covers community banks and mergers and acquisitions for American Banker.