Magazine article American Banker

Hudson River Ends Ambanc's Long Search for a Buyer

Magazine article American Banker

Hudson River Ends Ambanc's Long Search for a Buyer

Article excerpt

On the block for more than a year, Ambanc Holding Co. Inc. of Amsterdam, N.Y., has finally found a buyer.

Hudson River Bancorp Inc. said late Tuesday that it would pay $100 million in cash for the $711 million-asset thrift company, which owns Mohawk Community Bank.

The announcement was hardly unexpected -- in the last five months Ambanc has reported disappointing earnings, named an activist shareholder as its chairman, and watched a deal to sell itself to an unnamed buyer collapse in May.

"It was not a secret that Ambanc had been on the market for a long time," said Carl A. Florio, the president and chief executive officer of $1.7 billion-asset Hudson River.

He said he phoned Ambanc's president and CEO, John Lisicki, to have "a general conversation" after Ambanc's deal to sell itself fell apart. "I knew they were looking ... and the conversation just started taking on a life of its own," Mr. Florio said.

Kevin Timmons, an analyst at C.L. King & Associates in Albany, said there were compelling reasons for a sale, including the presence of two well-known activist shareholders on Ambanc's board "who have very much wanted to maximize shareholder value." Seymour Holtzman forced his way onto the board in 1999, and Lawrence B. Seidman was selected as its chairman in April.

A sale was inevitable, and "everyone has just been waiting for when, who, and how much," Mr. Timmons said. They weren't putting up the numbers."

In July, Ambanc, which has 16 branches in the Albany area, reported that its second-quarter net income fell 17. …

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