Susquehanna Bank to take over Tower Bank

PAT FRIDGEN
Will this view from the Greencastle square south on Carlisle Street be changing? Most assuredly it will with the announcement that Susquehanna Bank will acquire Tower Bank.

The face of downtown banking in Greencastle will change by the first quarter of 2012, when the merge of Susquehanna Bank and Tower Bank are complete. As announced Monday evening, Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc. and Tower Bancorp, Inc. reached a definitive agreement June 20, and Susquehanna will acquire all outstanding shares of Tower common stock in a stock and cash transaction.

Susquehanna Bank, located at 35 N. Carlisle St., and Tower Bank, at 40 Center Square, are across the street from each other. At most, only one facility will be used as a branch bank.

“We will keep the branches and facilities open that best serve our customers,” William J. Reuter, Susquehanna chairman and chief executive officer, told the Echo Pilot in an interview Tuesday. “We will combine staff, and again, keep the best possible employees.”

He was enthusiastic that the merge would allow Susquehanna to broaden its product line for consumers, small businesses, and cash and wealth management.

The acquisition will cost $343 million, and Tower shareholders will be offered the option of receiving either 3.47 shares of Susquehanna stock or being paid $28 in cash for each share. Based on the June 17 closing prices, that would be a 41 percent increase in value, according to Susquehanna’s press release. The balance of $88 million would be paid in cash. The move is expected to save $30 million annually.

Susquehanna, also purchasing Abington Bancorp, will have $17.8 billion in assets, and become the largest community bank in Pennsylvania after both mergers are complete. It is headquartered in Lititz and has over 220 branch locations. Tower, based in Harrisburg, has 49 branch offices with assets of $2.6 billion.

Reuter said that both banks shared similar values and a common commitment to local decision-making, exceptional personal service and community support.

Andrew Samuel, Tower chairman and CEO, said in the press release, “We are tremendously pleased to be joining the Susquehanna family. This merger plays to the strengths of both institutions and will provide strength, size and stability for employees, customers, shareholders and our communities.”

With the merge, Samuel will become president and chief revenue officer. Jeffrey Renninger, Tower president and chief operating officer, and Janak Amin, Graystone Tower Bank CEO, will each assume senior management positions at Susquehanna Bank. All three will be appointed to the board.

The local impact

Reuter said he didn’t yet know the status for Jeff Shank, president and CEO of Tower in Greencastle.

“We haven’t talked about anyone individually, but we want regional presidents.”

As both banks combine, Reuter said Susquehanna would try to accomodate as many employees as possible.

“We have hundreds of jobs in the marketplace, and openings all the time. People will have to make decisions on, for instance, if they want to commute or retire.”

He noted the corporate headquarters were in Hagerstown, Md. and a loan center was in Maugansville, Md. The company also opens seven to 10 facilities per year. That meant there would be ongoing opportunities for jobs.

Reuter worked at Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust, a Susquehanna subsidiary in Hagerstown, for 15 years. He is aware of Greencastle’s banking history.

“I know the area well. I have great regard for First National Bank of Greencastle, now Tower. It’s our strong desire to do well, and even better, in Franklin County.”

He planned that relationships would expand and Susquehanna would become more aggressive on the lending side.

Tower purchased First National Bank of Greencastle in 2009. The Greencastle mainstay, recognized for its clock tower, was established in 1864 and constructed its building in 1869. The clock was added in 1872. Citizens National Bank opened in 1901 and was purchased by Susquehanna in 2005.

WILLIAM J. REUTER