In June, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based F.N.B. Corp., with three First National Bank (FNB) branches in the Wilmington market, announced the signing of a merger agreement with UB Bancorp.
UB, headquartered in Greenville, North Carolina, has one Wilmington location of its subsidiary, Union Bank. At the time, FNB officials stated an expected end-of-year completion of the merger.
Because banking must spread its high operating costs over as many customers as possible to remain profitable, mergers with or acquisitions of other banks are attractive, Peter Gwaltney, president and CEO of the N.C. Bankers Association, said recently.
For banks wishing to grow in this state, however, there’s a problem: a dwindling supply of North Carolina-based banks to target.
About eight years ago, 75 banks were headquartered in North Carolina, but with the completion of the FNB and UB merger, the state will have 42, Gwaltney said. He added that First Community Bank of Bluefield, Virginia, recently announced the acquisition of Surrey Bank in Mt. Airy, “taking us to 41 sometime in the second quarter of 2023.”
But despite a scarcity of acquisition targets, he said, the state will continue to see mergers and acquisitions because the North Carolina economy is so good and cities are growing.
The FNB all-stock transaction, valued at $19.56 per share, or a fully diluted market value of approximately $117 million, will strengthen FNB’s presence in North Carolina.
Recently, Vincent Delie Jr., F.N.B. Corp.’s chairman, president and CEO, responded to questions from the Business Journal about the transaction.
Will the FNB-UB Bancorp merger be finalized in December, as planned?
“Yes. We have received final regulatory approval for the merger. The transition is expected to take place during the weekend of Friday, Dec. 9; Saturday, Dec. 10; and Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. On Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, UB locations are expected to open for business as First National Bank.”
What is attractive to FNB about UB Bancorp?
“North Carolina has proven to be a growth engine for our company. The planned merger with UB Bancorp will further leverage our investments in the market and accelerate our organic growth potential, moving our deposit market share to a top 10 position in the state. In addition, the acquisition will enhance our presence and extend FNB’s ability to reach clients in more rural, minority and low- to moderate-income communities.
“Following the merger, UB customers will have full access to our local community banking team as well as one of the most convenient branch networks serving North Carolina, with approximately 100 locations in the state and approximately 350 FNB offices throughout seven states and Washington, D.C.
“Customers also will have the added benefit of FNB’s over 1,100 total ATMs and comprehensive range of financial products and services. This is highlighted by a suite of digital banking tools at the leading edge of innovation in our industry, with a feature-rich mobile banking app, FNB Online Banking and Bill Pay, a growing fleet of Smart ATMs and eStore, our unique digital shopping experience.”
What, if anything, will be the merger’s impact in the Wilmington market of New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties?
“UB customers coming to FNB will gain access to our comprehensive resources, sophisticated products and services, innovative technology and leading digital platforms, as well as enhanced convenience, evidenced by the growing number of branches and ATMs mentioned above. Additionally, all of our customers’ financial success will continue to be supported by an exceptional team of local banking leaders and decision-makers who understand the unique needs of our customers in this region.”
What about the current Union Bank location and staff: will the office close?
“As part of the merger process, we evaluate overlap in our combined branch networks to determine which locations will allow us to optimize customer service, convenience and efficiency.
“Based on this process, we have decided to consolidate the Union Bank Wilmington office at 101 Autumn Hall Drive, #101 in Wilmington, with the FNB Wilmington Eastwood office located just over one mile away at 1724 Eastwood Road in Wilmington on Dec. 9, 2022. We have communicated this information to customers and are committed to ensuring their banking needs continue to be met without disruption during this transition.”
Will staff be absorbed by FNB?
“FNB has a deep respect for Union’s talented workforce and their excellent reputation, and all retail personnel were offered positions with our company.”
Will FNB increase its community investment commitment to the places where Union Bank currently has a presence?
“We firmly believe that our success comes when our communities succeed. As we continue to build our presence in the regions that Union Bank has served and further entrench our company across North Carolina, we will continue to bring with us our deep community commitment, which is central to what we do at FNB.”
Is FNB looking for more potential merger targets in North Carolina?
“We do not speculate about mergers and acquisitions. Overall, there is a strategic focus on our part in continuing to build out the delivery channel in North Carolina. It makes sense for us to be focused there and we have substantially elevated our profile in the state over the past several years.
“In addition to the multiple de novo branches and regional headquarters towers we have established, we are in the process of significantly expanding our statewide ATM network. The planned merger with UB even further positions our Company for organic growth through our existing platforms, such as our branch and ATM networks and digital tools, including eStore.”
APITURE LAUNCHES DATA ENGAGE
Working with Raleigh-based software company Pendo, Wilmington financial technology firm Apiture has debuted a new tool to provide banks with more insight into their customers’ behaviors.
The tool, called Data Engage, launched in November and helps “banks and credit unions expand the use of their digital banking platform,” according to a news release. It relies on Pendo’s product-analytics app designed to help software companies develop products that resonate with customers.
It provides financial institutions with data insights on how consumers and businesses use their digital banking platforms and offers tools to deliver guidance and tailored messages to drive engagement.
“As financial institutions seek to create stickiness with their brand, it is critical for them to understand how users are interacting with their platform and to have strategies to help users maximize the value of various online banking features,” Chris Babcock, CEO of Apiture, said in the release. “With Data Engage, our clients can easily evaluate their users’ activities and enhance the online experience using no-code, highly intuitive tools that promote the expanded use of digital banking capabilities.”
Features of the tool include the targeting of defined audiences with pop-up messages providing marketing notices, tips and tutorials, with the goal of educating and driving the adoption of specific features.
“This partnership enables Apiture’s clients to harness data-driven intelligence. It maximizes user engagement with their digital banking solution,” Todd Olson, co-founder and CEO of Pendo, said in the release.
Data Engage is one of four modules to be available as part of Apiture’s Data Intelligence product feature, which focuses on attracting, retaining and cross-selling digital banking users, the release stated.