Anthony P. Terracciano, chairman of First Fidelity Bancorp, said Wednesday that his company was unlikely to pursue a hostile takeover of another bank.
He was responding to speculation reported in Tuesday's American Banker that First Fidelity might make an unfriendly move against UJB Financial Corp., its New Jersey rival.
"I philosophically am against unfriendly takeovers," Mr. Terracciano said in a telephone interview. " certainly don't like unfriendly takeovers in this environment."
Speculation about a takeover was spurred by reports that officials of First Fidelity and Core-States Financial Corp. recently approached UJB Financial's largest investor, Chilmak Capital Corp. The investment firm, which owns just under 10% of the Princeton-based bank, has been urging UJB's management to consider takeover offers.
UJB has $13 billion of assets, compared with $28.9 billion at Lawrenceville, N.J.-based First Fidelity and $22.8 billion at Philadelphia-based Corestates. Officials at Chilmark, Corestates, and UJB declined to comment.
"My sense is that UJB isn't high on [First Fidelity's] priority list," said Michael Plodwick, an analyst at C.J. Lawrence & Co.
The bank might have pursued a friendly deal, he said, but "I don't think it would have been at a price that Chilmark had in mind."
Mr. Terracciano would not comment about specific expansion plans. As a general rule, he said, New Jersey's largest bank will avoid acquisitions that cause shareholder dilution for more than 18 months.
He seeks federally assisted deals where possible. In November, the bank purchased 29 branches of Philadelphia's Atlantic Financial Savings from the Resolution Trust Corp.
Shares of UJB were selling for $13.87 early Wednesday afternoon, unchanged from their Tuesday close. First Fidelity rose 37.5 cents, to $27.25 per share. CoreStates had climbed 50 cents, to $43.125 per share.