Columbia Financial to buy philanthropy-focused bank in N.J.

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Columbia Financial in Fair Lawn, N.J., has agreed to buy Stewardship Financial in Midland Park, N.J.

The $6.7 billion-asset Columbia said in a press release Friday that it will pay $137 million in cash for the $961 million-asset parent of Atlantic Stewardship Bank. The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, priced Stewardship at 166.8% of its tangible book value.

Atlantic Stewardship has 12 branches in northern New Jersey, $747 million in loans and $784 million in deposits.

"Our companies share common values with a strong culture focused on relationships and serving our communities, making this combination a perfect partnership,” Thomas Kemly, Columbia's president and CEO, said in the release. “We greatly admire the philanthropic support Stewardship provides through its tithing program.”

Kemly said the Columbia Bank Foundation plans to continue various aspects of Stewardship's charitable mission.

Paul Van Ostenbridge, Stewardship’s president and CEO, will join Columbia’s board. A Stewardship director will join the board of the Columbia Bank Foundation.

Columbia said it expects to incur about $14 million in merger-related expenses. The company plans to cut about half of Stewardship’s annual noninterest expense.

The deal should by 16.2% accretive to Columbia's 2020 earnings per share. It should take less than five years for Columbia to earn back any dilution to its tangible book value.

Columbia was advised by Boenning & Scattergood and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Stewardship was advised by Sandler O'Neill and McCarter & English.

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