Slideshow Bank M&A hot spots

Published
  • April 08 2018, 9:00pm EDT
7 Images Total

A regional view of bank M&A

While industry consolidation picked up in 2017, certain regions of the country were humming along better than others, with strong volume and improved pricing.

Overall, the total number of bank mergers increased by roughly 6% from a year earlier, to 256, according to data compiled by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and S&P Global Market Intelligence. The total value of those transactions rose more than 3%, to $26.2 billion, based on deals where pricing was disclosed.

Much of the merger activity between banks took place early in the year after the 2016 presidential election triggered a remarkable surge in stock prices. Banks such as Sterling Bancorp, Pinnacle Financial Partners and Iberiabank announced large deals in the first quarter; all of the year's 10 biggest deals were inked by late July.

Some parts of the country clearly had more consolidation than others. For instance, deals announced across the Southeast accounted for nearly half of the industry's total volume in 2017. The region was also home to seven of the year's 10 biggest bank mergers. The Midwest, meanwhile, had the most deals, though many of them involved smaller institutions.

For those curious about 2018 so far, activity has been relatively slow with just 48 deals announced and none with a value above $1 billion. The Midwest has accounted for more than half of the year’s bank mergers, while the Southeast still has a commanding lead in terms of volume.

Here is a look at the regional trends in bank M&A for 2017.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slideshow misstated the name and headquarters city of the bank that Columbia Banking System agreed to buy early last year. It was Pacific Continental in Eugene, Ore.

High-volume region

The 72 deals announced in the Southeast last year had a total value of nearly $13 billion, an amount that was on par with all other regions combined. Those deals had an average price to tangible equity of 170.3%, which was slightly better than the 167% average for all bank mergers announced last year.

Sellers tended to be rather large, averaging $910 million in assets.

Much of the consolidation was due to deals in North Carolina, where private equity poured in after the financial crisis. Ten banks in North Carolina sold in 2017 for about $5.5 billion.

Three of 2017's five biggest bank deals by price — First Horizon's purchase of Capital Bank Financial, Pinnacle Financial Partners' acquisition of BNC Bancorp and Sabadell United Bank's sale to Iberiabank — involved sellers in the region.

Content Continues Below


Busy year in the Midwest

The Midwest frequently leads the nation in number of deals, and 2017 was no exception. The region had 83 bank mergers, though the overall value was low, $4.1 billion.

Those transactions had an average price to tangible equity of 160.9%.

The region is home to states such as Kansas and Nebraska that have a large number of small, privately held institutions — the average seller only has $339 million in assets. That translates into more potential sellers.

Still, the year's fifth-biggest deal took place in the Midwest when First Financial Bancorp in Cincinnati agreed to buy MainSource Financial Group in Greensburg, Ind., for about $1 billion.

Home of the biggest deal

The largest bank deal of 2017 took place in the Mid-Atlantic, where Sterling Bancorp in Montebello, N.Y., agreed to buy Astoria Financial in Lake Success, N.Y., for $2.2 billion.

The five-state region had 28 bank deals totaling $3.9 billion, with a 145.3% average price to tangible equity. The average seller had $956 million in assets, though the numbers were skewed by the sale of the $14 billion-asset Astoria.

Another notable deal announced in the region was OceanFirst Financial's roughly $487 million purchase of the once-troubled Sun Bancorp, which CEO Thomas O’Brien orchestrated a turnaround by jettisoning underperforming businesses, closing branches and shedding millions of dollars of bad loans.

California leads the West

While Western states had 25 banks deals totaling roughly $2.9 billion, California accounted for more than half those transactions. The region's mergers had a 177.4% average price to tangible equity; the average seller had $585 million in assets.

The region's biggest deal took place in California, where PacWest Bancorp agreed to pay $716 million for CU Bancorp. A group of activists, led by the California Reinvestment Coalition, protested the deal, claiming that it failed to meet the convenience and needs of their communities. Still, it received regulatory approval and closed in October.

The West was also where one of the year's priciest deals took place. Columbia Banking System agreed early in the year to buy Pacific Continental in Eugene, Ore., for more than $600 million — a price that valued the seller at more than 300% of its tangible equity.

Content Continues Below


Highest premiums in the Southwest

Texas dominated much of the bank deal activity in the Southwest in 2017. The state accounted for 18 of the region's 38 deals, along with more than half of the $2 billion in total deal value.

The average deal in the Southwest priced sellers at 183% of tangible equity. That was the highest regional mean even though the average seller only had $337 million in assets.

While concerns over oil prices, along with Hurricane Harvey, briefly slowed the pace of consolidation in Texas, the state has still seen a fair share of activity. In Houston, for example, buyers are once again eyeing the market after severe flooding in August.

Small region has fewest mergers

The nation's smallest region also had the least amount of deal activity, registering just 10 bank mergers last year with a total value of $346 million. A number of those deal involved mergers of mutual banks.

Those transactions had an average price to tangible equity of 150.4%. The average seller had $398 million in assets.

Berkshire Hills Bancorp's $209 million acquisition of Commerce Bancshares accounted for most of the transaction volume in the region. The $11.5 billion-asset Berkshire, which has ambitions to become New England’s next regional bank, moved its headquarters to Boston as part of the acquisition.