Continuing to expand northward, First Fidelity Bancorp. on Monday said it will buy Greenwich Financial Corp., a thrift holding company with $412 million of assets based in Connecticut's affluent Fairfield County.
First Fidelity, New Jersey's largest banking company, said it would pay $41.9 million in cash, or 1.26 times book value, for Greenwich Financial. The thrift's lead subsidiary, Greenwich Federal Savings and Loan, operates seven offices in and around Greenwich and Stamford,
The deal will add girth to First Fidelity's newly acquired Connecticut franchise, the Union Trust Co. of Stamford. First Fidelity gained Union Trust through its recent purchase of Northeast Bancorp., a troubled company with 68 branches in Fairfield.
A Reasonable Way'
That transaction gave First Fidelity a strong presence in northern Fairfield County. The Greenwich Financial deal will add 22,000 deposit accounts in southern Fairfield County.
"The Union Trust franchise probably needs some beefing up, and this seems like a reasonable way to do it," said Dennis Shea, an analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co. The area also abuts Westchester County, New York, another area with several affluent communities where First Fidelity is expanding.
In April, First Fidelity announced a deal to buy Peoples Westchester Savings Bank, a $1.8 billion-asset thrift in Hawthorne, N.Y. It is also buying Village Financial Services Ltd., a Westchester thrift with nine branches.
First Fidelity. which has $32.3 billion of assets, said it expects the Greenwich Financial purchase to close in the fourth quarter and to contribute to its earnings by next year.