Magazine article American Banker

Hamilton of New York's Stock Up 44% as Speculation Grows of a Takeover

Magazine article American Banker

Hamilton of New York's Stock Up 44% as Speculation Grows of a Takeover

Article excerpt

Shares of Hamilton Bancorp, a New York thrift, soared Thursday on takeover speculation.

Hamilton, which is based in Brooklyn, rocketed $2.75 in price to $30 per share as trading opened. Later, the shares settled back to $28.50, but they are still up 44% during the past month.

Hamilton, with $750 million in assets, is one of a group of New York thrifts that are increasingly seen as likely acquisition targets for financial institutions eager to raise their share of the New York consumer banking market.

Others include the Greater New York Savings Bank, Dime Savings Bank, North Side Savings Bank, Crossland Federal Savings Bank, Fidelity New York, and Queens County Bancorp.

In a statement, Hamilton said it was not currently in any negotiations. But it acknowledged it had hired a financial adviser and was "exploring alternatives to maximize shareholder value."

The movement of the Hamilton stock "clearly suggests the market thinks a merger announcement is imminent," said Thomas J. Romano of McConnell, Budd & Downes Inc., Morristown, N.J.

Mr. Romano said that two big New York thrifts, GP Financial Corp. and Astoria Financial Corp., "represent the two most likely buyers, possessing excess capital and the complementary franchises that would maximize the deal-related cost savings."

A new study by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. points out that thrifts have a 29% share of the $300 billion-deposit metropolitan New York market. Excluding the corporate bastion of Manhattan Island, their share is 49%. …

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