Fast-growing Berkshire Hills Bancorp (BHLB) of Pittsfield, Mass., is continuing its expansion in New York with a deal to buy Beacon Federal Bancorp (BFED) of East Syracuse for roughly $132 million in cash and stock.
Beacon’s four branches serving the Syracuse area and the nearby cities of Rome and Utica would give the $4 billion-asset Berkshire 26 branches in central and eastern New York. Berkshire entered the market last year when it bought Rome Bancorp.
The $1 billion-asset Beacon also has one branch north of Boston in addition to two in Tennessee. Berkshire said Thursday that it expects to divest Beacon’s Tennessee operations with the completion of the merger.
Under the agreement, 50% of outstanding Beacon’s shares would be exchanged for Berkshire shares. Beacon stockholders would receive a little more than 9/10ths of a Berkshire share for each share they own. The remaining 50% of Beacon shares would be exchanged for $20.50 per share in cash.
A Beacon director would also be appointed to Berkshire’s board. The deal represents 1.11 times Beacon’s tangible book value per share and represents a 3.4% premium to core deposits.
The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, should add roughly 22 cents per share to Berkshire’s core earnings in 2013, Michael P. Daly, Berkshire’s president and chief executive, said in a news release.
This would be Berkshire’s fifth acquisition since early 2011. It has acquired three banks in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts in addition to a mortgage firm in its home state. It also has opened about a dozen branches in upstate New York in recent years and in late 2011 launched a commercial lending office in central Massachusetts.
“Our New York expansion last year exceeded our expectations in terms of financial return, customer retention and business development opportunities,” Daly said in a press release. “With our regional bank product set, community involvement, and our engaging brand and culture, we are well positioned to continue to build market share as the preferred personal and commercial banking partner.”