Ocean Bank to take People's name

The Ocean Bank name, which was first used in 1854 by a bank in Kennebunk, Maine, and has replaced the name of more then a dozen New Hampshire banks in various mergers over the last two decades, will be no more after July 19.

Instead, the Portsmouth-based Ocean will be changing its name to People’s United Bank, the same name of as the Bridgeport Conn.-based bank that acquired it at the beginning of 2008.

"Under one name, we will be more efficient," said Ocean Bank spokesperson David Reid. "A customer can drive all the way from Westchester in New York to Maine, and it will be all seamless."

People's United is about 10 times Ocean's size.

Ocean Bank customers can’t currently make deposits or use ATMs in the sister banks without an extra fee. Those sister banks include the Vermont-based Chittenden, which also will be adopting the People's name.

All that is scheduled to change on July 19. Signs will go up and new replacement checks will bear the People’s name, though that change will more likely be phased in over days, Reid said. Otherwise, customers won’t notice much of a difference, he said.

Still, said Reid, the name change "was a tough decision" for nostalgic reasons, and because "Ocean stood for being a local bank," though Reid hastened to add that the bank still will focus on being responsive to the local community.

Ocean National (as it was then known) set up shop in New Hampshire in 1998, when it opened up an office in Portsmouth. Four years later, it was acquired by Chittenden Corp. of Burlington, Vt.

Under Chittenden's ownership, Ocean expanded by acquiring various community banks, among them First Savings of New Hampshire in 2002 and Granite Bank and Community Bank and Trust in 2007.

Both Ocean and Chittenden became divisions of People’s at the start of 2009, but still operated under the old names, along with several other New England banks: Merrill Bank, Maine Bank and Trust and Flagship Bank.

At the beginning of 2009, Ocean had $2.2 billion in assets. People’s has about $20 billion in assets thoughout New England, 300 branches and 400 ATMs. 

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