Second M&A deal in four months for Independent in Mass.

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Independent Bank in Rockland, Mass., has agreed to buy Blue Hills Bancorp in Norwood, Mass.

The $8.4 billion-asset Independent said in a press release Thursday that it will pay $726.5 million in cash and stock for the $2.7 billion-asset Blue Hills. The deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2019, priced Blue Hills at 178% of its tangible book value.

Independent, the parent of Rockland Trust, also has a deal pending to buy Milford National Bank & Trust. That transaction was announced in May and is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

The deal would strengthen Independent’s presence in eastern Massachusetts. Blue Hills Bank, which was founded in 1871, has 11 branches around Boston and three locations on Nantucket, which operate as Nantucket Bank. Blue Hills has $2.3 billion in loans and $2.1 billion in deposits.

The acquisition “is a natural fit and is consistent with our strategy of acquiring banks in overlapping and adjacent markets,” Christopher Oddleifson, Independent's president and CEO, said in the release.

Oddleifson said in a Friday interview that he hopes to keep a majority of Blue Hills' employees. William Parent, Blue Hills' president and CEO, will not join Independent, though he could be considered for a board seat.

"We feel quite honored they chose us as a partner," Oddleifson said, adding that Independent remains focused on growth in eastern Massachusetts.

Rockland Trust has considered rebranding since its geographic footprint has expanded beyond Rockland, but Oddleifson said the bank is not actively considering a name change at this time.

Independent has bought five banks since November 2012, including last year's purchase of Island Bancorp.

Independent said it expects to incur $36 million in pretax merger-related charges.

Sandler O'Neill and Day Pitney advised Independent. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Luse Gorman advised Blue Hills.

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