PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Vista Bancorp, under pressure from shareholders to buy or be bought, said Thursday that it has hired the New York investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. to help it explore opportunities.

The move is a "natural extension" to Vista's business plan, William F. Keefe, its chief financial officer, said in an interview. He said working with Keefe Bruyette will help $700 million-asset Vista maximize shareholder value.

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