Roslyn Bancorp on New York's Long Island is finding itself under increasing pressure to make an acquisition, market experts say.

As consolidation sweeps through the state, the $3.6 billion-asset thrift company is finding fewer places to deploy its plentiful capital. Market experts also noted that the rash of mutual conversions-thrift initial public offerings-also have heated up local competition on Long Island, adding even more pressure for the thrift to bulk up.

Mark T. Fitzgibbon, associate director and thrift analyst at Sandler O'Neil, pointed out that Roslyn's dilemma is not unusual. Many thrifts that go public tend to overflow with capital.

Roslyn, based in the town of that name, has an equity to asset ratio of 17%, but other recent mutual conversions in the New York metropolitan area, such as Staten Island Bancorp, Independence Community Bank Corp., Brooklyn, and Richmond County Financial Corp., Staten Island, have equity to asset ratios as high as 26%.

Rising competition "means there are more players chasing after fewer dollars," said thrift analyst Gary Ford at Southeast Research Partners Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.

Indeed Independence, Richmond County, and Staten Island are mutual thrifts that have just one public and are looking to expand their market share.

North Fork Bancorp, Melville, N.Y., one of the most aggressive thrifts on Long Island, is reportedly making overtures to Long Island Savings Bank. Astoria Financial Corp., Lake Success, N.Y., is also said to be pursuing Long Island Savings.

Joseph L. Mancino, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Roslyn, in a recent interview dismissed the notion that the thrift is under pressure to buy.

"If we were to make an acquisition it would have to fit" our strategy, he said. "Making an acquisition for the sake of making it" is not prudent, he said.

Making acquisitions also is not the only way to spend capital, Mr. Mancino added.

The company has "bought back stock, opened more branches, and purchased a mortgage company," he said. "We started out with an equity to asset ratio of 23%, now we are down to 17%."

Nevertheless, Mr. Mancino acknowledged that making an acquisition is not out of the question.

The number of sellers is not as plentiful as it was five years ago, he said. "However, you can't limit to your general neighborhood. You do not have to (make an acquisition) in your own backyard."

Areas where the company is likely to look for potential targets include upstate New York, New Jersey, and Brooklyn and Queens.

Mr. Ford said he doubts that Roslyn investors are agitating for the bank to sell. "The typical investor wants them to take the conservative approach. They don't want to rush an acquisition and have it blow up in their faces," he said. But "if you are sitting there year after year with so much capital, certainly the shareholders are going to start asking for a better return on equity and essentially that will be done by selling the bank."

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