Provident Bank’s CEO says he has no intention to halt or delay his bank’s planned $208.9 million acquisition of SB One Bank, despite the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The $10.2 billion-asset regional bank, which has locations in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, announced plans to acquire SB One Bank on March 12, a day after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
"We're in the middle of an acquisition in one of the worst markets ever," said Provident Bank CEO Chris Martin, a distinction he called "a badge of honor."
"When we announced the deal, the market was getting hammered," Martin told Banking Dive. "We tried to articulate to shareholders that it's a great opportunity for everybody, it's accretive. It'll be bringing together two companies that are strong, bringing management succession, increasing the market share. And we're going to be better together than separate, so why not continue?"
The combined institution will have approximately $12 billion in assets and would become the third-largest bank headquartered in New Jersey. The two banks have said the deal would give the new entity the size and scale to remain competitive in their market.
The coronavirus has also brought on logistical challenges, as financial institutions work through their deals in a socially distant environment.
"Trying to do everything virtually is a challenge," Martin said. "The perseverance of the two teams — doing everything without having the face-to-face, and also doing this in one of the toughest times ever — we'll be able to say that we were one of the few, because I know a few others have been canceled or put off."
Fort Walton Beach, Florida-based Beach Community Bank terminated its planned acquisition of Florida First City Banks on March 24, citing the current economic environment as a reason, and three other bank merger agreements have fallen through in the past three weeks.
Tampa-based Suncoast Credit Union’s plans to expand its footprint into the Miami market through an acquisition of Apollo Bank was terminated May 11.
"The COVID-19 virus changed the value of our agreement and left us with an unpredictable future," Suncoast CEO Kevin Johnson told Banking Dive this month.
Suncoast, Florida's largest credit union, signed a definitive agreement to acquire Apollo Bank in December. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Johnson said it is possible the two entities could revisit the merger once the pandemic is over.
Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Nicolet Bankshares terminated its proposed $130 million acquisition of Commerce Financial Holdings on May 18. And Dallas-based Texas Capital announced Tuesday it ended its $3.3 billion merger with Independent Bank Group in McKinney, Texas.
The banks involved in both deals said the pandemic's impact was a contributing factor.
Texas Capital was hit particularly hard by the pandemic because of its exposure to the energy sector, and its earnings were severely affected by lower interest rates, Brady Gailey, a banking analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, told the Dallas Morning News.
Although several deals have met their ends in recent months, Provident's Martin said he is confident the deal will be completed by the end of July.
"I think it's about the leaders of both companies saying, 'We've been up against worse things in life,' and everybody communicating that everybody's viewpoint matters," he said. "There's competence of the management teams to be able to navigate the treacherous waters that come with mergers. … Everybody kind of thinks the same way, which makes the deal more apparent that it was simpatico."