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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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With merger, Bankwell looks beyond Fairfield County

Published 4:38 pm, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
  • Peyton Patterson, CEO of Bankwell in New Canaan. The company said Tuesday, April 1, it agreed to acquire Quinnipiac Bank & Trust. Photo: Lindsay Perry / Stamford Advocate
    Peyton Patterson, CEO of Bankwell in New Canaan. The company said Tuesday, April 1, it agreed to acquire Quinnipiac Bank & Trust. Photo: Lindsay Perry

 

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New Canaan-based Bankwell Financial Group has agreed to purchase Quinnipiac Bank & Trust, the fast-growing firm's second acquisition since October and first step out of Fairfield County.

Bankwell said Monday that it will pay $15 million in cash and stock for Quinnipiac, which is based in Hamden and has about $100 million in assets. The deal would increase Bankwell's total assets to about $880 million, the company said in a statement.

"We are excited to expand our presence into New Haven County and to welcome Quinnipiac's customers to the Bankwell Financial Group family," Peyton Patterson, Bankwell's president and CEO, said in the statement.

If approved, Bankwell would pay $12 each for about 25 percent of Quinnipiac's shares, or about $3.6 million in total. The remaining 75 percent of Quinnipiac stock would be exchanged for 0.56 Bankwell shares a piece, subject to a maximum issuance of 510,169 Bankwell shares, the release said.

Bankwell expects the deal to immediately increase its earnings per share and have a tangible book value earn-back period of about four years.

Wheeler and dealer

New Haven County is familiar turf for Patterson, who last decade, as CEO of New Haven Savings, drew both controversy and accolades for her maneuvers.

In 2004, she orchestrated a complex double merger with Savings Bank of Manchester and Tolland Bank, which culminated in the newly created NewAlliance Bancshares going public in a $1 billion IPO.

NewAlliance subsequently went on a buying spree, bringing its assets up to $9 billion and making it the third-largest bank in New England. Patterson was named the second-most powerful woman in banking in American Banker's 2008 rankings.

In 2011, she surprised the industry by selling NewAlliance for $1.5 billion to First Niagara in Buffalo. In the process, she earned a reported $16 million payday and spent the next year mulling what to do next.

In April 2012, she was appointed head of BNC Financial Group, which was then the parent company for The Bank of New Canaan, The Bank of Fairfield and Stamford First Bank. At the time, the group had five branches and assets of $500 million.

Last summer, she re-branded the group as Bankwell and announced the acquisition of Wilton Bank, which was completed in October.

`Strong foundation'

On Monday, Patterson said that acquiring Quinnipiac will "provide a strong foundation upon which to build our presence in the surrounding New Haven markets."

She added that the bank will "continue to be the hometown bank serving the local community, but with a far greater array of services to offer local individuals and businesses."

The deal has gained approval from both entities' board of directors. It is expected to close in the third quarter of 2014. Mark Candido, Quinnipiac's president and CEO, and Dick Barredo, executive VP and chief lending officer, will remain in senior positions at Bankwell after the deal.

In the release, Candido called Bankwell a "like-minded" community bank that has an "outstanding reputation for exceptional service, credit quality and community-giving."

He added: "I am excited about our increased capacity to lend, which will have an impact on the communities we serve."

The transaction's closing is still subject to approval by Quinnipiac shareholders as well as regulators. Bankwell said it would establish an advisory board of Quinnipiac directors for the sake of continuity and to preserve the bank's reputation in New Haven. One director from Quinnipiac's board will join that of Bankwell at closing.

As of Dec. 31, Bankwell had total assets of $780 million, loans of $632 million, deposits of $661.5 million and shareholders' equity of about $69.5 million.

Sandler O'Neill & Partners and Hinckley, Allen & Snyder advised Bankwell. Sterne, Agee & Leach and Luse Gorman Pomerenk & Schick advised Quinnipiac.

tloh@scni.com; twitter.com/timloh