New York banks delay merger closing due to coronavirus outbreak

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Flushing Financial in Uniondale, N.Y., and Empire Bancorp in Islandia, N.Y., have delayed the closing of their merger due to coronavirus outbreak and subsequent market instability.

The $7 billion-asset Flushing agreed in late October to buy the $1 billion-asset Empire for $111.6 million.

The companies said they are pushing back the planned April 4 closing date to the end of the second quarter or early in the third quarter.

“The delay is predicated upon the unprecedented operational challenges facing both Flushing and Empire, as well as the entire financial services industry, due to” the pandemic, the companies said in a Monday press release said.

Flushing and Empire also attributed their decision to “severe instability and volatility in the U.S. financial and stock markets,” the release said. The companies also noted how the pandemic had disrupted “business, commerce, travel and normal daily activities in the New York metropolitan area.”

“We strongly believe that the Empire merger remains financially attractive to our stockholders, and that continuing to pursue its completion is in the best interest of Flushing, Empire and our respective customers.” John Buran, Flushing’s president and CEO, said in the release.

The companies will also push back the deadline for shareholders to elect their consideration, which had been set for April 1.

Flushing-Empire is the second bank merger to face a delay because of the coronavirus outbreak.

VSB Bancorp in Staten Island, N.Y., disclosed last week that it would delay a vote to approve its sale to Northfield Bancorp in Woodbridge, N.J., due to the pandemic.

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Community banking M&A Coronavirus