AMSTERDAM, N.Y. - Ambanc Holding Co. of Amsterdam, N.Y., said Wednesday it had commenced its tender offer for Cohoes Bancorp of Cohoes, N.Y., as it seeks to acquire all of Cohoes shares for $16.50 in cash.

In addition, Ambanc continued to urge the Cohoes shareholders to vote against their company's proposed sale to Hudson River Bancorp of Hudson, N.Y. That vote is to be taken at a special meeting scheduled for Aug. 17.

It is the latest salvo in a bizarre battle among four upstate New York banking companies that have in recent months announced plans to merge or try to block a merger amongst themselves.

Cohoes and Hudson River agreed to an $89 million merger deal in April. In June, another company, Trustco Bank Corp. of Schenectady, launched a hostile bid for Cohoes, offering $126 million, or $16 a share. It made a separate bid for Hudson River, offering $250 million or $14 a share. Both offers were stock deals.

Meanwhile, Ambanc stepped in with its own bid for Cohoes the same month.

The boards of Cohoes and Hudson River have rejected the unsolicited offers, and both companies are urging their shareholders to support the original combination.

Ambanc previously announced its intention to solicit proxies against the proposed sale of Cohoes to Hudson River.

In a statement, Ambanc said its tender offer is subject to certain contingencies, which include: the satisfaction of a minimum tender condition; the rejection by Cohoes stockholders of the proposed Hudson River merger; valid termination of the lockup option granted to Hudson River; customary bank regulatory approvals; and the execution of a definitive merger agreement to provide for the merger of Cohoes with Ambanc.

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