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Westchester Bank Holding raises $22.2M through 124 investors

"Family and friends," accounted for many of the 124 investors that contributed to Westchester Bank Holding Corp.'s $22.2 million equity capital raise, according to President and CEO John Tolomer.

"There aren't any major investors," Tolomer said in an interview, noting that no one can hold more than 4.9% of the company's stock.

He said the group of investors consisted of "original investors of the bank, customers of the bank, [and] people in the local community that love having a community bank here in Westchester County."

By the time the White Plains, N.Y.-based company filed its Form D with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 3, it already sold the total amount of its offering. The date of the first sale was July 31, according to the document. The minimum accepted investment from any outside investor was $12,950.

Westchester initially set out to raise $20 million, but was "oversubscribed in a matter of days," Tolomer said.

"It was really the sense of the performance of the bank, the interest of the original investors, and also new investors who have been working with the bank and wanted to be part of it," he said.

Tolomer called the capital raise a "modest amount" for Westchester, which had total consolidated assets of $753.2 million as of June 30. He said the funding is "certainly enough to continue to catapult and fund" its business initiatives.

Westchester Bank opened its doors amid the financial crisis in June 2008, and completed a $25.9 million capital raise in July 2011. He said now was an opportune time for another capital raise, thanks to an increase in activity by small and medium-sized businesses excited by the potential of a tax reduction. He noted that while enthusiasm surrounding a corporate tax cut was stronger in February and March, he remains optimistic.

"We see continued growth and continued opportunity for us, so we want to be in a position to take advantage of that," Tolomer said.

"We weathered the storm of the meltdown, we weathered the storm of a weak economy, in certainly '09 and '10, and have prospered," he added. "We were profitable in our second full year of 2010, and we've been fortunate that the market has embraced our bank."

Tolomer said the company will use the funding primarily for organic growth, but will not turn away from a deal opportunity if it makes sense.

"To this point, all of our growth has been organic," he said. "We've always felt strongly that we would position ourselves to take advantage of any opportunity, whether it be a business line or a bank, [and] to take advantage of that. And that perspective has not changed. We continue to make ourselves open to that."

In the meantime, if Westchester does not find a new business or deal opportunity, he said it will continue to grow organically "in a very satisfying way" for shareholders.