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Pennsylvania bank M&A woke up in December 2019

An active December capped an otherwise slow year for Pennsylvania bank M&A in 2019.

Last month, four deals were announced with a Pennsylvania-based bank target, compared to only two deals during the rest of 2019. By comparison, eight deals were announced in the state in both 2018 and 2017.

Most recently, on Dec. 18, 2019, Wellsboro-based Citizens & Northern Corp., the parent company of Pennsylvania's 18th-largest community bank, Citizens & Northern Bank, announced it would acquire Doylestown-based Covenant Financial Inc. for $77.2 million.

Earlier, on Dec. 10, 2019, Dunmore-based Fidelity D & D Bancorp Inc. revealed it was acquiring Bangor-based MNB Corp., which will make Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank a top 25 community bank in Pennsylvania once the deal closes.

On Dec. 5, 2019, Bristol-based William Penn Bancorp Inc. (MHC) announced two transactions: one for Bristol-based Fidelity Savings and Loan Association of Bucks County and another for Philadelphia-based Washington Savings Bank.

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Pennsylvania's community bank profitability lagged the rest of the U.S. once again in the third quarter of 2019, but both deposit and loan growth outpaced the nation as a whole.

Among Pennsylvania's community banks and thrifts under $10 billion in assets, the median return on average equity was 7.99% in the third quarter, higher than the mid-Atlantic's 7.56% median but lower than the 9.86% U.S. median. The state's 3.36% median net interest margin was 5 basis points lower than the mid-Atlantic median and 49 basis points lower than the U.S. median.

Pennsylvania's 5.0% median year-over-year deposit growth surpassed the state's 4.7% loan growth and outpaced the 4.4% growth rate for the U.S.

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Pittsburgh-based thrift Dollar Bank Federal Savings Bank, the state's largest community bank, posted lower profitability than the state median in the third quarter, but the company was able to grow its assets by 7.0% year over year.

On Sept. 9, 2019, Indiana-based First Commonwealth Bank, Pennsylvania's second-largest bank at the end of September, completed its acquisition of 14 Pennsylvania branches previously owned by Boston-based Santander Bank NA.

Meanwhile, another Indiana-based bank, S&T Bancorp Inc., completed its acquisition of Downingtown-based DNB Financial Corp. on Nov. 30, 2019, and should make S&T Bank the state's second-largest institution by assets.

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Pennsylvania, like much of the rest of the U.S., is seeing more bank branch closures than openings as banking goes digital. During the third quarter, 57 bank and thrift branches were closed, while only 16 were opened. During the last 12 months to Sept. 30, 2019, 199 branches were closed in Pennsylvania and 62 opened.

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Click here for a spreadsheet containing third-quarter 2019 financial information for Pennsylvania's community banks and thrifts.