These may not be the happiest of times for the financial sector, but M&A activity continues to show signs of life. New York-based Community Bank System has agreed to acquire 18 branches from New York-based Citizens Financial Group Inc. The deal will add $135 million in loans and $630 million in deposits to Community Bank’s $4.7 billion in assets “at a blended deposit premium of 12 percent,” states a company press release. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, South Carolina’s Community Bankshares Inc. and First Citizen’s Bank & Trust Company will merge in the fourth quarter. Under the terms of the deal, Community Bankshares’ shareholders will receive $21 for each outstanding common share. First Citizen’s Bank & Trust had assets of $6.4 billion as of March 31, with 170 commercial and retail offices in South Carolina and Georgia. Community Bankshares subsidiary Community Resource Bank had $585 million in assets and 10 branches, all in South Carolina.

Elsewhere, Delaware-based Wilmington Trust is acquiring New Jersey-based UBS Fiduciary Trust Company, with a closing planned for late summer. The cost of the all-cash transaction was not disclosed, but here’s what Wilmington gets: 800 retirement and benefit plans with $5.5 billion in assets under administration.

Merger activity could also start heating up north of the border. Canada’s Competitive Review Panel issued its recommendations last week, which include “removing the de facto prohibition on mergers of large financial institutions, subject to regulatory safeguards,” according to the panel’s report. The caveat: foreign banks would still be limited to holding 20 percent of the voting shares of Canadian lenders.

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