First Fidelity Bancorp. acquired Howard Savings Bank for $73.5 million Friday after the New Jersey-based institution was seized by regulators.

Meanwhile, regulators seized First Constitution Bank of New Haven and sold it to Webster Financial Corp., a thrift company based in Waterbury, Conn.

The failures of Howard Savings, which had $3.6 billion in assets, and the $1.6 billion-asset First Constitution were long expected.

Both institutions were victims of the region's realty slump.

Buyer Rebounding

For First Fidelity, which is based in Lawrenceville, N.J., the acquisition is the latest in a string of deals since the company started to rebound from its own loan problems.

With the acquisition of Livingston-based Howard Savings, First Fidelity adds 70 branches, $3 billion in assets, and $3.4 billion of deposits.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will retain $616 million in troubled assets.

Under the deal, the $29.3 billion-asset First Fidelity could bear 20% of any loss on $867 million of the loans it acquired.

First Federal Savings, the operating unit of Webster Financial, will assume $1.4 billion of deposits and the same amount in assets from First Constitution.

Costs to U.S.

The failure of Howard Savings Bank is expected to cost the FDIC about $117 million, while the tab for First Constitution was put at $122 million.

Harrison Young, FDIC's director of resolutions, said the deals' costs were relatively low because both institutions were still solvent.

Each institution attracted three final offers, Mr. Young said.

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