One of the Virgin Islands smallest banks is expected to become its biggest in the second quarter.
That, said Michael Dow, president of $79 million-asset Virgin Islands Community Bank, is when it plans to close the purchase of seven branches, an insurance agency, and a foreign sales office from what is now J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. approved the deal, which was first announced in June 1999, last November. The price has not been disclosed.
The purchase would create a $500 million-asset bank with operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Croix (home to its two current offices), St. John, and St. Thomas as well as on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
The deal would make Virgin Islands Community the largest bank based in all of the Virgin Islands. It would also mark the end of an era for Morgan Chase, which is pulling out of the islands after 41 years there.
Nearly two years ago Chase decided to sell its assets in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Panama, and the Dutch Antilles to concentrate more on its mainland U.S. business. Virgin Islands Community quickly expressed interest in the Virgin Islands branches.
Both companies had planned to close the deal in 1999, but Mr. Dow said that putting together the terms has taken longer than expected.
The bank, based in Christiansted, will offer Chases products to all its customers. It hopes to use the Chase resources to become a major player in developing housing for people with low or moderate incomes, Mr. Dow said.
We are convinced we will make a contribution to the economic development of this island, he said.
Mr. Dow acknowledged that after operating a tiny bank on one island for six years, he is somewhat daunted by the prospect of running one six times as large. However, he said that he expects the transition to be smooth, since he worked for Chase in the 1980s and is familiar with its operations and many of its employees.