Columbia (Md.) Bancorp is poised for further growth after raising $10 million in a stock offering this week.

The $230 million-asset company said it made the offering primarily to boost capital reserves for future branch and whole-bank acquisitions, as well as to redeem its preferred stock.

Rapid consolidation in Maryland - most notably from the First Union Corp./First Fidelity Bancorp. megadeal announced 11 days ago - has presented numerous opportunities for banks like Columbia Bancorp, observers said.

Branch sales from the deal are likely in Maryland - the only state where First Union and First Fidelity overlap.

"They're seeking to build a bank in Columbia which can serve all small and medium-sized businesses in the area," said John A. Bailey, vice president at Freedman, Billings & Ramsey in Arlington, Va. "I think it sounds great because there are no other independent banks in that market, so there's a vacuum of service."

The offering, underwritten by Legg Mason Wood Walker Co., priced 750,000 shares at $13.50 each, a respectable premium to book value, analysts said. Book value as of March 31 was $11.92.

The final amount raised from the offering is not known yet because the underwriters can still exercise the so-called green shoe option, which allows them to buy and sell an additional 112,500 shares, depending on market demand. Legg Mason Wood Walker has 30 days to exercise this option.

"Profits have been good," said John M. Bond, chief executive of Columbia Bancorp. "But we haven't been able to generate internally the capital needed for more growth."

For the first quarter of 1995, the bank reported net income of $633,000, a 23% jump from the same quarter a year earlier. Earnings per share have climbed steadily since a loss in 1991, reaching $1.67 last year - nearly a sevenfold increase from 1990.

Columbia Bancorp has bought two banks, a branch, and some deposits since its founding in 1988. Mr. Bond said his bank's stock offering is just the fourth in the country so far this year.

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