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Fulton interested in M&A, targeting banks with $1B to $9B assets

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Fulton interested in M&A, targeting banks with $1B to $9B assets

Lancaster, Pa.-based Fulton Financial Corp. has seen a number of bank deals in and around its footprint, and Fulton is looking for its own deal.

Chairman and CEO E. Philip Wenger said on an earnings call that the bank continues to be interested in pursuing M&A, targeting banks with $1 billion to $9 billion in assets. Fulton reported $26.39 billion in assets in the third quarter.

On financial metrics for a potential deal, CFO Mark McCollom said the bank would not consider a deal with up-front tangible book value dilution greater than 2% to 4% and that the company is targeting an earn-back period of three years or less.

"Right now certainly tangible book value dilution and earn-back has a heightened focus," McCollom said on its conference call to discuss third-quarter earnings. "I always think it's important to look at those two together because you can accept maybe a little bit higher earn-back up front if you have a really strong company that you're buying."

McCollom said the bank also plans to focus on EPS accretion in the first year of combined operations and internal rate of return, ensuring it is higher than the target's cost of capital. But the primary factor in M&A, McCollom said, was ensuring cultural fit.

"The most important thing, really, is that there's a good cultural fit," McCollom said. "A great financial deal with a bad culture fit will ultimately end up being a bad deal for shareholders."

Meanwhile, Fulton is growing its existing business. President and COO Curtis Myers said Fulton expects near-term loan growth of roughly 4% to 6%.

"All things being equal where they are right now, certainly a pickup in business activity will drive that growth without adding new customers," Myers said.

The bank expects consumer loan growth to pick up, thanks, in part, to a new fintech partnership in the student loan refinance industry. The student loan refinancing partner is Splash Financial Inc., spokesperson Laura Wakeley wrote in an email.