It's unusual to hear the chief executive of a small regional bank say he isn't worried about remaining independent.

But Gerald H. Lipkin, chairman, chief executive, and president of Wayne, N.J.-based Valley National Bancorp, said he isn't concerned about being acquired by the bigger banks in the state, although Valley - with $4.6 billion in assets and a strong suburban retail and small-business-lending base - is eminently attractive.

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