Joseph Ficalora, New York Community Bancorp’s president and CEO, is leaving the door open for a deal with Astoria Financial.
Ficalora teased out the possibility of revisiting the deal during Tuesday comments at an investor conference hosted by Credit Suisse. The $49 billion-asset New York Community and the $15 billion-asset Astoria mutually terminated their planned merger in December.
“Astoria was always a great deal,” Ficalora said, adding that it was just taking too long to get the deal completed.
“That doesn’t mean we could never buy Astoria in the future. It just means that the contract ended … and both banks agreed not to renew,” he added. “The reality is there are going to be opportunities in the marketplace, including potentially Astoria, down the road.”
New York Community, based in Westbury, announced in October of 2015 that it had agreed to pay $2 billion to buy Astoria. New York Community indicated roughly a year later that it wouldn’t receive regulatory approval to buy the Lake Success, N.Y., company before the deal’s Dec. 31 termination date.
Astoria’s management team said during a January conference call to discuss quarterly results that the deal was called off after New York Community was unable to provide a timetable for closing. Astoria is exploring options that include remaining independent or finding a new buyer.
New York Community, meanwhile, is still grappling with how to approach the looming $50 billion-asset threshold, where financial institutions are generally considered systemically important. Ficalora is hopeful that his company could find some relief if legislators raise that threshold.
New York Community is looking at other big acquisitions, though Ficalora noted on Tuesday that the company stock is “deeply discounted” compared with many of its peers. “If there is a change in Dodd-Frank — and that change has a positive impact on our ability to do accretive deals — that will only be good for us,” he said.
For now, Ficalora seems to be holding out hope that Astoria might be available in the future.
“Obviously we would have loved to have Astoria on this list” of completed deals, Ficalora said. “Maybe someday we will.”