A Pennsylvania community banking company is crossing the Delaware River for the first time in a deal to buy two community banks in New Jersey.

Susquehanna Bancshares in Lititz, Pa., has agreed to buy Farmers Banc Corp., Mullica Hill, and Marlton-based Atcorp Inc. for a total of $40.6 million.

The company will pay $19.2 million for Farmers Banc and $21.4 million for Atcorp. Bank officials said the prices were two times book value and between 14 and 17 times earnings.

Susquehanna president and chief executive Robert S. Bolinger was not available for comment.

The transactions would boost Susquehanna's assets to about $3.3 billion and would add six branches. Farmers Banc, parent of Farmers National Bank, has $83 million of assets; Atcorp, parent of Equity National Bank, has $189 million.

The deals are Susquehanna's first venture in New Jersey, after a series of acquisitions in neighboring states. The $3 billion-asset company has six banks and three thrifts in Pennsylvania and Maryland, with 106 branches.

According to a press release, the latest deals are consistent with the company's stated strategy of acquiring "successful, community-oriented banks in the mid-Atlantic region."

In 1989, when it bought Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust in Hagerstown, Md., Susquehanna became the first holding company to have subsidiaries in both Maryland and Pennsylvania,

Last year it bought Atlantic Federal Savings Bank in March and Reisterstown Federal Savings Bank in April.

Its most recent purchase, this February, brought it Fairfax Savings Bank in Baltimore.

Susquehanna reported net income for the second quarter of $8.3 million, up 30% from the year-earlier period.

The transactions, both of which were announced July 18, are subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

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