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Cooperative bank merger

Greenfield, Northampton institutions join forces

  • Michael Tucker of Greenfield Co-operative bank stands in front of one of the bank buildings on Federal Street in Greenfield.<br/>Recorder/Paul Franz

    Michael Tucker of Greenfield Co-operative bank stands in front of one of the bank buildings on Federal Street in Greenfield.
    Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Greenfield Cooperative Bank CEO Michael E. Tucker in the Greenfield Bank's lobby.   Recorder/Paul Franz

    Greenfield Cooperative Bank CEO Michael E. Tucker in the Greenfield Bank's lobby. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michael Tucker of Greenfield Co-operative bank stands in front of one of the bank buildings on Federal Street in Greenfield.<br/>Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Greenfield Cooperative Bank CEO Michael E. Tucker in the Greenfield Bank's lobby.   Recorder/Paul Franz

Talk about cooperative.

Greenfield Co-operative Bank and Northampton Cooperative Bank announced a merger on Tuesday that their presidents said will give their customers access to 10 banking locations and 11 ATMS in Franklin and Hampshire counties, with each of the two banks retaining their own names in their respective counties, right down to their different spellings of “cooperative.”

Subject to state regulatory review as well as approval by NCB’s depositors, the consolidation — with both banks’ separate divisions operating under the charter of Greenfield Co-Operative Bank, which is owned by the mutual holding company Greenfield Bancorp created in 2008 — is expected to take effect in early 2015.

GCB President and CEO Michael Tucker said the banks will benefit from economies of scale and more efficient operations, although he and NCB President and CEO William Stapleton said there will be no employee layoffs and no branch closings. Instead, savings will come from expected retirements and attrition.

“We want to make people feel comfortable that they’re still dealing with the same people, with the same offices; they don’t have to change their routine unless they want to,” Tucker said. “Our Sunderland office is a fairly busy one for us, and it’s a lot of UMass folks who commute up to Franklin County. There’s good synergy and absolutely no overlap” between the two banks’ territories.

Customers of both banks will be able to transact business at any of the combined bank company’s Hampshire or Franklin county branches.

Tucker foresees savings for the merged banks by sharing GCB’s information technology department with Northampton, which outsources that work, and sharing some advertising and compliance functions as well.

And, both bankers said, the merger will also allow them to retain employees who had previously felt there was inadequate room for advancement.

Greenfield Co-Operative at 109 years old, and with 65 employees, has $345 million in assets and a $214 million loan portfolio. Northampton Cooperative, created 124 years ago, has 28 employees, $162 million in assets, and a little under $90 million in loans, about 80 percent of which is residential mortgages.

Stapelton will serve as CEO of Greenfield Bancorp and chairman of the combined bank, while Tucker will remain president of the holding company and president and CEO of the combined bank. The merged bank’s shared board of directors will include 11 members from each county.

“Both of our institutions are very similar in operations and culture,” said Stapleton. “We are small, friendly, customer-oriented institutions and proud of our long traditions in outstanding community service.”

He added, that as “mutual institutions,” whose depositors are entitled to cast votes at the banks’ annual meetings, “we can continue to take the long view, and we will work together to ensure that this new, local community bank is here for the next century of service.”

With combined assets of just over $500 million, more than $60 million in capital and about 95 employees, the merged entity will still be the smallest bank in the valley, said Tucker. And yet both banks have good reputations in the community, with GCB earning an “outstanding” rating under the Community Reinvestment Act and NCB earning a “satisfactory” rating.

In addition to giving their customers, who tend to move back and forth between the two neighboring counties, access to more branches and ATMs, the merger will give NCB customers access to financial services that are housed across the street from the Greenfield bank’s 63 Federal St. headquarters. They will also have access to commercial lending, such as Small Business Administration loans.

Greenfield Co-op has two full-service offices in Greenfield as well as branches in Northfield, Shelburne Falls, Turners Falls and Sunderland and a financial services office in Greenfield, while Northampton Cooperative has two offices in Northampton and two in Amherst. While GCB has been able to add branches every few years, in Shelburne Falls a little over three years ago and Turners Falls last year, NCB has added branches on College Street in Amherst and, nine years ago, a branch in Florence.

The banks are small enough overall that Stapleton traveled to his bank’s four offices this week to announce the merger, and Tucker also visited GCB’s offices, as well making an announcement at an employee picnic Tuesday night.

Over the last year, GCB announced at its annual meeting last week, total assets grew by 6.46 percent to just over $346 million, partially attributable to the opening of a Turners Falls branch last November. Total loans grew by 9.39 percent, to over $214 million, including $85 million in commercial loans and over $97 million in residential mortgages.

The bank’s partnership with the state treasurer’s Small Business Banking Partnership program resulted in 17 loans for over $4 million, meaning 12 local jobs saved and 15 local jobs created. And with $288 million in total deposits last year, growing nearly 7.7 percent, it saw its 16th straight year of increasing market share for Franklin County deposits in 2013, to a new high of nearly 25 percent of all deposits.

On the Web: www.northamptoncoop.com

www.greenfieldcoopbank.com

You can reach Richie Davis at: rdavis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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