The News-Times

Webster Bank merger approved by regulators

- By Luther Turmelle luther.turmelle@hearstmedi­

Federal banking regulators have signed off on the merger between one of Connecticu­t’s largest homegrown banks, Webster Financial Corp., and Sterling Bancorp, the two partners in the deal said Monday.

The $10 billion all-stock merger was announced in April. The closing of the deal is scheduled to occur sometime around Feb. 1, officials with the two companies said in a statement Monday.

But when asked for further details about the merger, including whether there would be layoffs as a result or any branch closures, Alice Ferreira, a Webster spokespers­on, said, “we are focused on the good news of receiving final regulatory approval.”

“We will have more informatio­n as we get closer to operating as a combined company,” Ferreira said in an email sent to Hearst Connecticu­t Media.

When the deal closes, the combined company will have approximat­ely $65.5 billion in assets, $42 billion in loans and $54 billion in deposit balances, as of Sept. 30, and will operate more than 200 financial centers in the Northeast region.

The soon-to-be combined company will be based in Stamford. Ferreira told Hearst Connecticu­t Media last month Webster’s Waterbury offices would retain “some headquarte­rs functions,” although she declined to provide details.

John Carusone, president of the Bank Analysis Center, a Hartfordba­sed industry consulting firm, said while a merger of equals can “create value to shareholde­rs,” it’s also important for the two financial institutio­ns “to hit the ground running, lay all of their cards on the table in terms who has what responsibi­lities and how some of them might be changing.”

“There’s a plethora of things that can go wrong if they are not careful,” Carusone said. “There can be an incompatib­ility of corporate cultures, there can be an incompatib­ility of computer systems and customers can be unhappy as a result. And competitor­s are going to be nipping at their heels, trying to take some of their market share.”

Carusone estimated headquarte­rs staff of the combined banks will be between 25 and 50 people.

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