Analysts said Monday that Summit Bancorp lost a rare opportunity to increase market share in central New Jersey when its merger talks with Bankers Corp. disintegrated.

Chatham, N.J.-based Summit had planned to buy Bankers, which is based in Perth Amboy, in a stock swap transaction valued at $270 million.

The banks would not reveal why their letter of intent to merge, signed in September, was terminated last week.

And analysts following the deal were also left groping for an explanation.

Buying Bankers -- one of the last sizable independents left in Middlesex County -- was Summit's only opportunity to capture a large chunk of deposits in the area, according to Elizabeth Summers, a banking analyst with Ryan, Beck & Co.

Bankers also has branches in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

"For Summit to get Bankers was quite a coup," Ms. Summers said.

With $1.6 billion in assets and 14 branches averaging more than $100 million in deposits in each, Bankers would have been a nice addition to $5.5 billion-asset Summit.

The deal would have boosted Summit's market share in Middlesex County from 12, with more than 2% of deposits, to second, with 9.5% of deposits. Lawrenceville-based First Fidelity Bancorp ranks first in Middlesex with 12%.

In Monmouth County, where National Westminster Bank Corp. is number one, Summit would have jumped from 11, with 2.8% of deposits, to fifth, with 6.7% 0f deposits.

Currently, Summit is third in Ocean County with 8.7% of deposits.

An acquisition with Bankers would have jumped its market share there up one notch, with 11.12% of deposits.

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