Many banks want to do an acquisition, and many do, but it's a stiff learning curve, says Terrance "Terry" McCarthy, senior executive vice-president and chief operating officer of First Banks, Inc., Clayton, Mo. "You're better off if you do it regularly," he says.
He should know. The one-bank holding company has been acquiring banks for 20 years, including 20 bank acquisitions in California alone. That run has propelled the family-owned company to $9.7 billion in assets with 186 branches in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, and California.
Montana-based Glacier Bancorp has been at the acquisition game almost as long, buying 15 banks (including one large thrift) over 19 years. It now has banking offices in five western states. But Glacier, a $4.1 billion multibank holding company, has followed a markedly different model than First Banks.
These two companies fall within the subset of the bank M&A market labeled "serial acquirers" or, if you prefer, "active acquirers." There is no official definition of those terms, but a good rule of thumb could be companies that have done five deals since 2002, according to Curtis Carpenter, managing director, Sheshunoff Investment Banking, Austin, Tex. There are 23 such companies currently active, he notes (two others were acquired themselves). Collectively they accounted for 167, or 12.8%, of the 1,305 bank and thrift deals done since 2002.
What motivates these repeat …