Kearny Financial in Kearny, N.J., has adopted a plan to convert to a public stock company. 

The $3.5 billion-asset company said in a press release that its board had adopted the plan, which remains subject to shareholder approval. Kearny said the proposed conversion would allow it to pursue plans for expansion.

“We believe the second-step transaction will assist us in moving forward with our growth and strategic plans,” Craig Montanaro, Kearny’s president and chief executive, said in the release.

Under the proposal, common stock held by shareholders other than the company would be converted to maintain current ownership levels. Shares held by the company would be cancelled, and depositors would be given first priority to purchase stock in the new company.   

As part of the conversion, the board would change its name of its branches to “Kearny Bank” from “Kearny Federal Savings Bank.” 

The announcement comes just two months after Kearny completed its acquisition of the $116 million-asset Atlas Bank in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The new public stock company would also establish a charitable foundation to provide funding for local nonprofits, focusing primarily on housing assistance. Kearny would donate $10 million to the new organization, consisting of $5 million in cash and $5 million of common stock issued during the conversion. 

Kearny’s board separately approved a plan to exercise up to 2.7 million in vested stock options for directors and management that would otherwise expire next year. The board will settle the options in cash.

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