It was a long engagement, but the union between growth-oriented M&T Bank and Hudson City Bancorp looks like it is definitely back on track.
Anti-money laundering controls at issue
The long-awaited merger, agreed upon last August, ran into a roadblock when the Federal Reserve questioned the larger bank's money-laundering controls. But, M&T was determined to see the acquisition through, telling analysts back in April that it would do whatever was necessary to seal the deal.
M&T has announced that it will submit to the Fed a plan that will address the regulatory concerns over its money controls, and will engage an outside consultant to examine specific transactions that occurred at the bank in the latter half of 2012. As long as M&T complies with the stipulations in the agreement with the Fed, the $3.7 billion merger should be taken out of abeyance and allowed to move toward completion.
A symbiotic union
The acquisition will be beneficial to both banks. For New Jersey-based Hudson, which avoided the subprime mortgage problems associated with the financial crisis, the economic recovery years have been tough. Though generally well-managed, the bank lost more than $700 million in 2011, mostly because of loans it took from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. Those loans, with pre-crisis interest rates, became very expensive for Hudson once the Fed began lowering rates. To Hudson, M&T must resemble something of akin to a white knight.
Analysts have opined that M&T got a good deal with the purchase, and investors obviously agreed. The large regional also will get something else it craves: a larger footprint. Hudson has a large branch network, and those extra 135 locations will expand M&T's reach in the Northeast and push the bank's presence as far as Virginia. The bank will also be acquiring Hudson's $25 billion in deposits, making it the fourth-largest bank, by deposit share, in the state of New Jersey.
Ambitious expansion plans
Over time, M&T has grown steadily by its acquisitions. The bank has bought other institutions on an almost yearly basis since 2000, scooping up branches to extend its reach. In its constant search for growth, M&T has also been increasing its mortgage-servicing business, acquiring from Bank of America one of its loan servicing centers in New York state, assuming the lease on the building in addition to taking on the servicing of the loans formerly tended by B of A. The closing of the transaction with Hudson will add even more loans to its servicing base.
Now that this hurdle has been overcome, it should be only a matter of time until the deal is done. Investors have been showing their support, and both banks have seen a nice lift to their share prices since this news broke. Finally, it looks like loyal investors of both banks can expect a resolution very soon.
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The article M&T and Hudson City Bancorp Union Could Be Right Around the Corner originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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