May 22, 2018

United Bank widening its N. England turf

Hartford community lender United Bank is buying six New England branches run by Waterbury super-regional lender Webster Bank, deepening its push into Connecticut's shoreline markets as well as Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

United said Tuesday the tentative deal covers six Webster offices in those three states, with a combined $120 million in deposits that it will assume. If regulators approve, the branch purchases are set to close this fall, United said.

Financial and other terms were not disclosed.

Jonathan W. Roberts, Webster executive vice president for consumer deposits and network management, said, "We continuously evaluate our network to ensure that our banking centers are optimized to meet the geographic demands of customers, while concurrently seeking new opportunities to invest in high-opportunity markets and to modernize the overall banking experience."

The two Connecticut Webster branches are in the Groton Shopping Center, 654 Long Hill Road; and 124B Boston Post Road in Waterford, giving United its first branch presence there.

In Massachusetts, the three are: 50 Elm St., West Springfield; 1355 Boston Road, Springfield; and 62 Center Square, Longmeadow.
To accommodate the added Webster branches in Massachusetts, United says it will close three of its existing Greater Springfield offices, and shift operations and customer accounts to the nearest ex-Webster locations once the deal is completed.

United's West Springfield branch at 95 Elm St. will close, with customers served by the acquired branch at 50 Elm St. A separate, drive-up branch at 52 Van Deene Ave. will remain open.

Its Indian Orchard branch, 459 Main St., Springfield, will shutter and be consolidated into the Webster office a mile away, at 1355 Boston Post Road.

Finally, United's branch at 94 Shaker Road in East Longmeadow will close and be combined with the nearby Webster branch at 62 Center Square.

The lone Rhode Island branch United is buying is at 48 Franklin St., in Westerly, and will represent United's first office in The Ocean State.

Massachusetts is familiar market turf for United Bank, born in the 2014 merger of Vernon's former Rockville Bank and the former United Bank of West Springfield.

"In addition to strengthening our core deposit and customer relationship base, our strategic purchase of these six branches enhances our already strong presence in Western Mass where we enjoy significant franchise value, builds greater brand recognition and delivers new banking opportunities along the Connecticut shoreline – which will be a strong market for us and grows our branch banking network into new markets in Connecticut and Rhode Island," United Bank CEO William H.W. "Bill" Crawford IV said in a statement.

United, a $7.1 billion-asset lender, currently operates 53 branches and loan offices in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Webster, a $29 billion-asset lender, has 163 branches and offices in New England.

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