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For many, mutual bank conversions are a precursor to a sale

StreetTalk – Episode 69: Banks left with pockets full of cash and few places to go

Street Talk – Episode 69: Banks left with pockets full of cash and few places to go

Street Talk Episode 68 - As many investors zig away from bank stocks, 2 vets in the space zag toward them

Street Talk Episode 66 - Community banks tap the debt markets while the getting is good

For many, mutual bank conversions are a precursor to a sale

Companies that have completed standard and second-stage mutual bank conversions continued to pursue M&A in 2019 as 13 of those that have gone fully public since 2000 were acquired while another 11 are in the process of being acquired.

Regulators generally prohibit banks from selling for at least three years following a mutual conversion, so investors eagerly anticipate that third anniversary. Of the 191 completed standard and second-stage conversions from 2000 to 2016, only 28% have not announced a merger.

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The conversion class of 2011 has been one of the most active on the M&A front. Three of the class' converted companies were acquired in 2019. Of the 19 standard and second-stage conversions from 2011, only Watseka, Ill.-based IF Bancorp Inc. and Sykesville, Md.-based Carroll Bancorp Inc. are independent.

For the class of 2013, four of the nine standard and second-stage conversions have sold. The most recent company in that class to sell is AJS Bancorp Inc., which merged with Munster, Ind.-based NorthWest Indiana Bancorp in January 2019.

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For the 13 most recently completed M&A transactions, the time between conversion completion and merger announcement ranged from 3.6 years for Beneficial Bancorp Inc. to 12.7 years for Liberty Bancorp Inc. The median time was 7.2 years.

All of the M&A deals were priced above tangible book value. The most expensive acquisition in terms of announced deal value to tangible common equity was LegacyTexas Financial Group Inc. at 216.0%.

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Collinsville, Ill.-based Best Hometown Bancorp Inc. and Fairport, N.Y.-based FSB Bancorp Inc. wasted little time as they announced sales 3.3 years and 3.4 years, respectively, after completing conversions.

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Seven converted companies have become eligible to merge since 2019. Caldwell, Ohio-based Community Savings Bancorp Inc. and Huntingdon Valley, Pa.-based HV Bancorp Inc. just passed their third anniversaries in January. Stoughton, Mass.-based Randolph Bancorp is the largest company in the group by total assets, with $641.4 million as of Sept. 30, 2019.

Three additional companies will be eligible to merge by the end of 2020. Yorktown Heights, N.Y.-based PCSB Financial Corp. could be the crown jewel in the group, with $1.66 billion in assets and a branch network in the Lower Hudson Valley.