GOSHEN, N.Y. - MSB Bancorp, the holding company for Middletown Savings Bank, signed a definitive agreement to purchase eight branches with about $493 million in deposits from California-based First Nationwide Bank.

The purchase price of $39.4 million represents a premium of 8% on the deposits.

"The purchase is a major step toward achieving our objective of building the best banking franchise in our local market," said William C. Myers, MSB's chief executive. "This acquisition will bring us over 50,000 new deposit relationships in our local market."

Mr. Myers said MSB will have the No. 1 deposit market share among all banking institutions in New York's Orange County.

First Nationwide, based in San Francisco, has been selling off its New York branch network in recent months in an effort to concentrate on its California markets.

In connection with the branch purchase, MSB said it will change the name of its subsidiary to MSB Bank, while switching from a state savings bank charter to a federal thrift charter. Officials said the charter switch will facilitate the $465 million-asset institution's future expansion.

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