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Fulton Financial to pursue M&A once freed from all consent orders

Fulton Financial Corp. plans to look at bank and nonbank acquisition opportunities once it is freed from all regulatory consent orders over Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering compliance.

Chairman and CEO E. Philip Wenger said during the company's Oct. 17 earnings call that the Lancaster, Pa.-based company's M&A target will be institutions within its footprint with $1 billion to $7 billion in assets. For nonbanks, Wenger said the company is interested in a deal with an investment management trust.

In August, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the New Jersey Department of Banking freed Fulton Bank of New Jersey from BSA/AML consent orders. Wenger said the company is making progress on getting the remaining BSA/AML consent orders terminated.

On Oct. 13, Fulton Financial units Swineford National Bank and FNB Bank NA merged into Fulton Bank NA, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's website. The company recorded $1.8 million of charter consolidation costs in the third quarter and expects to record approximately $2 million to $2.1 million of charter consolidation costs in the fourth quarter. Fulton Financial is looking to complete the consolidation of all its subsidiary banks by the end of 2019.

In terms of loan growth, Wenger said the company expects mortgage volume to be down in the fourth quarter due to "seasonality and demand when rates have gone over 5%." The company continues to see headwinds to loan growth from higher prepayments, mainly in the commercial business.

Fulton Financial is also moving forward with plans to grow in Philadelphia and Baltimore. In Philadelphia, the company opened a mortgage loan production office in May and expects to open three branches in early 2019. In Baltimore, the company plans to open a mortgage loan production office in early 2019 and open full-service branches once BSA/AML consent orders are lifted.