When news of Salem Five’s latest deal broke last week, I was out of the office* and unable to reach the bank’s leadership for a comment immediately. We wrote the story, of course, but I always like to get a little extra commentary about why a particular merger or acquisition was attractive.
Fortunately, I was able to catch up with CEO Ping Yin Chai and Marketing Director Martha Acworth before the long weekend to chat a little bit about why Salem Five decided to acquire Georgetown Bancorp.
Chai immediately highlighted Georgetown Bancorp’s branch network as an attractive proposition for Salem Five. Its locations in Georgetown, Rowley and Andover complement the acquiring bank’s footprint nicely, he said.
Plus, he added, “The icing on the cake is that they have a new branch up in Stratham, New Hampshire, which would give us a foothold there immediately. We have a lot of commercial and mortgage business up in New Hampshire, but not a physical branch.”
Salem Five is already just a hair over $4 billion in assets now and this deal will bring that figure up to about $4.4 billion when it closes in the first quarter next year. Georgetown Bancorp has about 55 employees now, and Chai figures that Salem Five will probably be able to absorb most of them – although admittedly, the bank hasn’t yet evaluated that aspect of the deal.
Finally, Chai and Acworth said that even though Georgetown Bancorp is a stock bank, the two institutions were culturally pretty similar, which made the deal that much more attractive.
“They are really community banking at its best and they serve a wonderful segment of community business in all the markets where they’re working,” Acworth said. “Culturally, it’s a perfect fit for us in terms of that community business segment that’s really at the heart of what they do.”
This comes on the heels of the bank’s recent rebranding, which Chai echoed when he summed up our conversation, “It’s pretty uncomplicated.”
* P.S. Banker & Tradesman was recognized last week by the New England Newspaper and Press Association as a distinguished specialty newspaper.