Magazine article American Banker

Black-Owned Bank in Boston Bids for 18 Fleet Branches

Magazine article American Banker

Black-Owned Bank in Boston Bids for 18 Fleet Branches

Article excerpt

A minority-owned bank in Boston is making an aggressive bid for 18 of the branches Fleet Financial Group is divesting.

Boston Bank of Commerce, a closely held, $108 million-asset institution, has made an offer for branches with about $600 million of deposits, according to sources familiar with the situation. If its bid succeeds, the bank would balloon to about $700 million of assets, making it the largest black-owned financial institution in the nation.

To win regulatory approval of their $16 billion merger, Fleet and BankBoston Corp. are expected to divest about 292 branches and $12.5 billion of deposits in four states. Though observers said they expect the lion's share of these branches to go to one large bidder, political dealmaking in recent weeks has apparently reserved a small portion of them for community banks.

Boston Bank of Commerce officials confirmed that a bid was submitted but declined to comment on its specifics because of a confidentiality agreement with Fleet.

Asked how it would pay for the branches, Robert Patrick Cooper, general counsel for the community bank, said, "Financing will not be an issue." The Boston Globe reported last week that the bank had obtained a line of credit to fund the bid.

The small bank's bid has some high-profile backers. At a Federal Reserve Board hearing on the Fleet/BankBoston merger this month, the Rev. Al Sharpton, a well-known New York activist, urged the merger partners to accept Bank of Commerce's proposal. …

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