Two NH bank mergers in a week part of national trend

Is Community Guaranty acquisition, Lake Sunapee merger a sign of things to come?

The closing on Bank of New Hampshire’s acquisition of Plymouth-based Community Guaranty Bancorp, on the heels of the announced merger of Newport-based Lake Sunapee Bank Group with Bar Harbor Bankshares of Maine, indicates that the national bank merger revival has reached New Hampshire.

Last year brought a wave of bank mergers around the country, up 58 percent from the previous year, according to Reuters. And this year, that wave could turn into a tsunami, perhaps the “biggest year for bank mergers that we have seen in the last decade,” bank analyst Dick Bove told CNBC in January.

There had been no bank merger in New Hampshire since Eastern Bank acquired up Centrix in 2014 – until November of last year, when Bank of New Hampshire, the largest state-chartered bank, agreed to buy the state’s smallest bank, Community Guaranty Savings, for $12.9 million in cash, or $65.10 per share for shareholders of the privately held corporation.

That deal closed last week, adding Community Guaranty’s $113.4 million in assets, its 9,500 customers and branches in Plymouth and Campton to Bank of New Hampshire’s 21 branches, bringing assets up to $1.3 billion.

On the same day that deal closed, Lake Sunapee, slightly larger than Bank of New Hampshire (though federally chartered) announced that it was being acquired by Bar Harbor Bankshares for $143 million, or $17 a share. That nearly doubles the Maine bank’s size, to $3.3 billion, making it the largest New England-based bank, with branches in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.

Analysts have said the wave of mergers is the result of increasing regulation of small banks, combined with a plummet in energy prices, which has affected some banks’ loan portfolios.

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