F.N.B. is prepared to become a serial acquirer as it eyes expansion in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Maryland.

F.N.B. (FNB) is eager gain market share in those markets and is open to doing so with more acquisitions, Vincent Delie Jr., the $12 billion-asset company's president and chief executive, said during a quarterly conference call with analysts. "We have an interest in continuing to build out our existing franchise — either through de novo expansion or M&A," he said during the April 24 call.

The Hermitage, Pa., company is looking for opportunities in central Maryland that would connect operations it has in Harrisburg, Pa., and around Baltimore. Delie said F.N.B. could look for a "cost take-out play" in Pittsburgh, where it already has 95 branches and $3.5 billion in deposits.

F.N.B. recently entered Maryland with its $51 million purchase of Annapolis Bancorp. In February, the company agreed to buy PVF Capital (PVFC) to expand in Cleveland. The PVF deal, valued at $106 million, should close by Sept. 30.

Management made it clear that Philadelphia is not a strategic priority.

"Philadelphia is a much larger market than the other markets that I mentioned," Delie said in response to an analyst's question.

"It's highly competitive, and to gain scale quickly would be a challenge," he added. "The cost of acquiring talented people is higher. It is not out of the realm of possibility, but I think that we would rather focus on markets that look similar to Pittsburgh where we've had great success."

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