Jackson Federal of Calif. to Buy Local Bank Highland for $120M

Jackson Federal Bank in San Bernardino, Calif., which has been growing at a torrid pace, said Tuesday that it plans to buy Highland Bancorp in Burbank for $120 million in cash.Acquiring $667 million-asset Highland would nearly triple Jackson Federal's assets, to $1.1 billion. The thrift, a subsidiary of Jackson National Life Insurance Co. in Lansing, Mich., would pay $25.45, or 2.14 times book value, for each share of Highland stock.

Highland's stock soared on news of the deal. The stock closed at $24.0625 Tuesday, up nearly 40%.

Jackson plans to "develop further" Highland's "successful commercial and multifamily specialty lending niche," said Tad Lowrey, its chairman and chief executive officer. The deal would also expand Jackson's franchise from Southern California's Inland Empire region to the Greater Los Angeles area, he said.

The purchase, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, would be Jackson Federal's second in the Los Angles market this year. Last month it completed an acquisition of three branches, with $165 million of deposits, from Fidelity Federal Bank of Los Angeles.

Highland Bancorp is the parent of Highland Federal Bank, a 32-year-old savings institution. Highland's seven branches would become branches of Jackson Federal, which would have 14 branches in Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties.

- Alan Kline

Va.'s Marathon, Rockingham In Merger-of-Equals Agreement

A new merger-of-equals agreement would create the only multibank holding company based and operating exclusively in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

Winchester-based Marathon Financial Corp., which has $114 million of assets, would become the holding company for $106 million-asset Rockingham Heritage Bank as well as its own Marathon Bank. The two banks have 11 offices in seven counties.

Marathon Financial would be renamed Premier Community Bankshares, and each Rockingham share would be swapped for 1.58 shares of Premier stock.

The pooling-of-interests agreement was announced last week and is expected to close in the third quarter.

- Veronica Agosta

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