The roller-coaster ride at 1st Mariner Bank in Baltimore is coming to an end.

Howard Bancorp in Ellicott City, Md., has agreed to pay $163.4 million in stock for the $975 million-asset 1st Mariner. The $1.1 billion-asset Howard said in a press release Tuesday that it expects to close the acquisition in the fourth quarter.

Howard, which will roughly double in size, will have 21 branches around Baltimore after buying 1st Mariner.

Rob Kunisch, who helped guide 1st Mariner Bank through an unlikely post-crisis turnaround, will become president of Howard Bancorp as part of the companies' planned merger.

“We have long respected the executive team at 1st Mariner and have been very impressed by their turnaround and recasting of the bank since their restructuring in 2014,” Mary Ann Scully, Howard’s chairman and CEO, said in the release. “Howard and 1st Mariner share a focus on privately held businesses in the greater Baltimore market.”

The sale ends a tumultuous decade at 1st Mariner. It lost $120 million from 2006 to 2015 and even warned at one point that it could fail. It was recapitalized after going through a heated bankruptcy auction in 2014.

The company, under new management, reported a profit last year. Just last month, Rob Kunisch succeeded Jack Steil as CEO. Kunisch and Steil participated in the recapitalization.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Howard Bank team,” Kunisch said in the release. “Our shared commercial focus and long ties to the market will be particularly attractive to our customers and employees.”

Scully will remain Howard’s chairman and CEO; Kunisch will become president and join the board. Steil, who will also become a director, will serve as a senior business development adviser. The 14-member board will have six representatives from 1st Mariner.

Howard said it expects to cut 1st Mariner’s annual noninterest expenses by 37%. The transaction should be accretive to earnings; it should take less than three years to earn back any dilution to Howard’s tangible book value.

Stephens and Covington & Burling advised Howard. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Venable advised 1st Mariner.

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Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart covers community banks and mergers and acquisitions for American Banker.