SAN FRANCISCO Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc. said Thursday that it would buy Borel Bank and Trust Co. of San Mateo, Calif., one of the few independent private banks in Northern California.
Boston Private is to pay $113.2 million, or $37.50 a share, in an all-stock transaction scheduled to close in the fourth quarter. The deal uses pooling-of-interests accounting, which is shortly to be phased out, and will be immediately accretive upon closing.
The decision to buy a private bank picks up the pace a bit for Boston Privates plans in Northern California. In April the company applied to state regulators for a bank charter so it could start the lengthy process of creating its own.
Timothy L. Vaill, chairman and chief executive of $1 billion-asset Boston Private, said the purchase would advance the companys goal of expanding in eight areas of the country where concentrations of colleges and universities have generated wealth by attracting knowledge-intensive industries.
Mr. Vaill said he was not worried that the slowdown in Californias economy, especially in areas that rely on the technology industry, might make the deal a bad idea.
Its a good time to come in the area, he said. San Mateo County is not really in heart of Silicon Valley its a much more stable, diversified economy, he said.
We thought if we could find a partner that was seasoned, it would take a lot of risk out of the formula, he said.
The purchase is the second phase of Boston Privates three-part plan for Northern California. Last year it bought an investment manager, Sand Hill Advisors of Menlo Park, a firm with $750 million of assets under management. And sometime in the next 12 months it plans to either start or buy a financial planner, Mr. Vaill said.
Gerard Cassidy, an analyst with Tucker Anthony Sutro & Co., called the price for $360 million-asset Borel probably fair, but not cheap. The price, which works out to about 3.7 times book value and 17.3 times earnings, was in part dictated by Boston Privates stock. Its price-to-earnings ratio is 26.21; the industry average of 50 regional banks is 20.26.
When you buy quality, you very rarely pay Kmart prices, Mr. Cassidy said. Observers pointed to the banks profitability and clean balance sheet. Last year Borels return on equity was 23.9%, and nonperforming assets accounted for 0% of its assets. It has $337 million of deposits, and $520 million of client assets in its trust department.
Borel Bank and Trust was founded in 1980 by descendants of Antoine Borel, a Swiss banker who immigrated to California in 1861. Its one branch is located in what had been the Borel family estate, and observers say it is well known in the area for its private banking services. Its president and chief executive, Ronald G. Fick, is a descendant of the Borel family. For the most part, the bank serves professionals and entrepreneurs.
As with past acquisitions, Boston Private will keep the brand and management of Borel. But it will introduce some credit products, such as jumbo mortgages, and the wealth management services of nearby Sand Hill Advisors.
Looking ahead, Mr. Vaill said Boston Private will be very cautious as it expands across the country. If we get into one region a year, that might be reasonable, he said.
Boston Privates stock rose 4% Thursday to close at $21.45.
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