Heading into 2018, management and the board of directors at the parent company of Belmont Savings Bank saw that there was no shortage of challenges in front of them if they were to sustain their successful track record of loan and earnings growth.

The bank would need to bring in additional capital at a time when the landscape for loans and deposits was only getting more competitive and interest rates were rising. Its loan-to-deposit ratio was roughly 127 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2018, making this task all the harder.

So the bank sought a buyer. But it would take many conversations with several other players before eventually landing on People’s United Bank, according to a recent regulatory filing first reported by American Banker.

Belmont Savings took several actions in May. It asked representatives of JPMorgan Chase to seek out larger, out-of-state companies interested in establishing a presence in the Greater Boston market. It also authorized CEO Bob Mahoney to approach established institutions in Massachusetts about acquiring Belmont Savings Bank, and even reach out to a smaller, but similarly sized institution about its interest in being acquired by Belmont Savings’ parent company.

Mahoney reported back to the board in June that JPMorgan had identified an out-of-state regional bank holding company with no operations in Massachusetts potentially interested in acquiring the bank. Also at the June meeting, Mahoney reported that the institution Belmont had approached about potentially buying had no interest in being acquired.

Mahoney later that month reached out to Jack Barnes, president and CEO of People’s United, to congratulate him on the bank’s acquisition of First Connecticut Bancorp. During the conversation, Mahoney mentioned that BSB Bancorp was at a point where it was reviewing “strategic options for moving forward,” and Barnes suggested that he and Mahoney could get together in the weeks ahead.

Executives from Belmont Savings and People’s United met in Boston in July and decided that Barnes and Mahoney would meet face-to-face in the weeks ahead.

Before that meeting took place, however, the CEO of another potential buyer described as an “active acquirer” in the regulatory filing, met with Mahoney and said he would follow up. Although it does not explicitly say in the regulatory filing, this bank is likely Rockland Trust.

The larger out-of-state regional bank holding company with no operations in Massachusetts said in August it was no longer interested in buying Belmont Savings. Additionally, Barnes and Mahoney had a productive meeting that ended with Barnes saying he would further investigate the possibility of purchasing Belmont Savings.

Barnes formally put in an offer to purchase Belmont Savings on Sept. 19. A day later, the bank that is likely Rockland Trust informed Mahoney that it had bought another Massachusetts bank. Rockland Trust announced its acquisition of Blue Hills Bank on Sept. 20.

After hammering out the financials, Belmont Savings and People’s United publicly announced the deal in a joint press release on Nov. 27.

How Belmont Savings Landed on People’s United as a Buyer

by Bram Berkowitz time to read: 2 min