Magazine article American Banker

PNC, Busy Buyer, Says Integration's Becoming Easier

Magazine article American Banker

PNC, Busy Buyer, Says Integration's Becoming Easier

Article excerpt

PNC Financial Services Group Inc., which has been active in acquisitions over the last year, just completed its second bank branch and systems conversion in seven months and is working on another.

Over the weekend PNC converted 31 branches it picked up when it bought Yardville National Bank of Hamilton, N.J., in October.

Doug Wicker, the PNC executive who managed the integration, said it was a "very smooth" process, which he credited to a program where PNC employees partner with staff at the acquired company.

In September, PNC converted 231 branches from its March 2007 acquisition of the $17.7 billion-asset Mercantile Bankshares Corp. in Baltimore. Next the Pittsburgh company plans to convert 67 branches from its pending deal for the $3.2 billion-asset Sterling Financial Corp. of Lancaster, Pa. That transaction has received Federal Reserve Board approval and goes before Sterling's shareholders March 26. The $139 billion-asset PNC plans to convert Sterling in the third quarter.

During the Mercantile conversion, PNC fine-tuned its partnering program, which helps employees identify potential trouble spots and familiarize new people with PNC's culture, Mr. Wicker said. The program begins right after the deal closes, he said.

The Yardville conversion, the smallest of the three, changed the signs and converted 31 branches and 40,000 customers in seven counties in central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania after the close of business March 7. "We honestly did not have any hitches or hangups whatsoever," Mr. Wicker said.

Seventy to 80 PNC people partnered with Yardville employees and spent 36,000 hours training them. Mr. Wicker said one of the biggest challenges with Yardville was its branch technology platforms. Realizing there were key differences between Yardville's platform and its own, PNC began training Yardville employees about a month after the deal closed until right before the conversion, he said. …

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