Two of upstate New York's oldest thrifts have announced plans to merge under a new publicly held holding company.

Privately held Cohoes Savings Bank said last week that it would acquire Schenectady Federal Savings Bank and its parent, SFS Bancorp, in a stock deal.

Cohoes plans a public offering to finance the purchase. The price for SFS would range from about $35 million to $44 million, depending on the average price of the newly issued stock through the first 10 days of trading. SFS had a market capitalization of $33 million at midday Tuesday, when its stock was trading at $27.25.

Schenectady Federal, founded in 1889, operates four branches in Schenectady County. Its parent company has $178 million of assets. Cohoes, which has $536 million of assets in 17 branches, was founded in 1851. It operates in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Warren counties.

The deal, expected to close in the fourth quarter, would be the first in New York in which an acquisition was funded with proceeds from a public offering.

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