Magazine article American Banker

Webster Grabs for Position in Conn. with DS Bancor Deal

Magazine article American Banker

Webster Grabs for Position in Conn. with DS Bancor Deal

Article excerpt

Bolstering its already strong position in Connecticut, Webster Financial Corp. is gobbling up one of the few remaining large community banks in the state.

Its $137 million stock deal for DS Bancor would propel Waterbury-based Webster over the $5 billion-asset mark, cementing its position as the second- largest depository institution based in Connecticut. Bridgeport's People's Bank has more than $6 billion.

Webster would gain 23 branches and 45,000 customers in the south-central part of the state, plus $1 billion of deposits.

That would give the thrift more than $4 billion of deposits statewide, or 7.5% of the market. And it would become the largest Connecticut-based institution in its primary markets of Hartford and New Haven counties, home to two of the state's largest cities.

As a result, Webster officials are already touting the deal as enhancing their ability to compete head-to-head with regional giants Fleet Financial Group and Bank of Boston Corp.

"This further strengthens Webster as a competitor in Connecticut," said James C. Smith, chairman and chief executive. "We're really filling a void that's been created by all the megamergers that have occurred."

Investors reacted positively, and Webster's stock price remained at $35 per share, the same as before the announcement.

"It's a threshold event," agreed John Carusone, president of Bank Analysis Center, a Hartford investment bank. "It really vaults Webster ahead."

Even state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued a statement praising the deal. …

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