Hudson United Bancorp of Mahwah, N.J., has been conspicuously quiet about its future since its planned merger with Dime Bancorp collapsed April 28.
The $9.3 billion-asset company's silence has led analysts to start speculating.
"One would assume the sharks are circling," said David Trone, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. in New York, who predicted a takeover soon, perhaps in the next 30 to 90 days.
Mr. Trone said likely bidders include banks in the Southeast and foreign institutions looking to expand into the mid-Atlantic region.
Heather L. Dilbeck, an analyst at Ryan Beck & Co. in Livingston, N.J., agreed that a takeover is likely. "They've already sold themselves once," she said, citing logical buyers as Bank of New York, PNC Financial, and HSBC USA.
Observers estimated that Hudson, parent of Hudson United Bank with about 200 branches in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, would fetch roughly $35 a share. Hudson shares have been trading around $22 the last two weeks; its 52-week high was $34.9531 on May 11, 1999.
Hudson's deal with Dime was in part derailed by a $1.9 billion hostile offer for Dime by North Fork Bancorp of Melville, N.Y.
Though the merger was mutually terminated, Hudson is entitled to up to $92 million if Dime is sold within the next 18 months. Even if Dime remains independent, Hudson is entitled to $15 million.
"This stock was punished for the Dime deal, and now that it's off, combined with the breakup fee that they will receive when Dime is eventually acquired, makes it a compelling investment," said Gerard S. Cassidy, an analyst at Tucker Anthony Cleary Gull in Portland, Maine.
Though he agreed a merger is in Hudson's future, Mr. Cassidy has a longer time line than other analysts do. In the short term, he predicted, Hudson would use the breakup fee to buy back its stock.
Hudson is also likely to turn inward and focus on integrating JeffBanks Inc. and Southern Jersey Bancorp, two companies it bought last year, Mr. Cassidy said.
Calls to Kenneth T. Neilson, Hudson's chairman, president, and chief executive, were not returned.