Cohoes Bancorp, whose shareholders rejected its sale to another small upstate New York thrift company, has hired an investment banker to explore strategic options including a sale to a “larger financial institution.”

In August shareholders narrowly rejected a merger of equals with Hudson River Bancorp. Cohoes, based in the town of that name, has $726 million of assets. Hudson River, based in Hudson, has $1.1 billion.

A bidding war began shortly after Cohoes announced in April that it had agreed to sell itself to Hudson River for about $11 a share in stock. Ambanc Holding Co. of Amsterdam offered $16.50 a share in cash; Trustco Bank Corp. of Schenectady offered $16 in a stock swap.

Ambanc, which has $703 million of assets, and Trustco, with $2.4 billion, have continued their pursuit and have nominated board candidates. But Cohoes, in announcing its plans Thursday, urged the two companies to drop their nominations and their tender offers.

Harry L. Robinson, Cohoes’ president, said selling to a larger institution would enhance shareholder value.

“In as small a bank as ours, we really in this day and age have to grow,” he said. “If you don’t grow, you’re not properly doing your job.

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