Eastern, Cambridge Trust Finally Cleared to Merge

Eastern, Cambridge Trust Finally Cleared to Merge

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After eight months of waiting, Massachusetts’ biggest bank merger deal in years is slated to go ahead.

Boston-based Eastern Bank announced Tuesday morning it had received regulators’ approval to merge with Cambridge Trust. The deal was originally announced last September, was approved by both banks’ investors Feb. 28 and is expected to close July 12, the bank said in an announcement.

The all-stock deal is valued at $528 million. It will create a $26 billion-asset bank and the biggest Massachusetts-based bank, ahead of $19.35 billion-asset Rockland Trust and $12.42 billion-asset Berkshire Bank. Eastern CEO and chair Bob Rivers has touted the merger as creating a “powerhouse” bank that will be able to challenge national and regional banks for deposits and wealth management clients thanks in part to Cambridge Trust’s large and successful wealth management business.

Eastern, like several other banks active in the Massachusetts market, hopes to aggressively pursue wealth management as a lucrative growth area in an environment where previous revenue streams, like commercial real estate lending, are challenged.

When it was first announced, the deal had been expected to close in the first quarter of this year, but was held up by bank regulators. During the bank’s first-quarter earnings call, Eastern CFO Jim Fitzgerald told analysts that the delay was due to the size and complexity of the deal, adding that regulators had “been very clear that they want to support us.”

“We are thrilled to receive the required regulatory approvals for our merger with Cambridge Trust, and we look forward to completing the integration of our two companies,”Rivers said in a statement. “This merger will create a $26 billion organization that is positioned as Greater Boston’s leading local bank and the largest bank-owned independent investment advisor in Massachusetts. We are deeply grateful to the incredible teams at both banks for their work in supporting this merger, and their outstanding customer service, collaboration and engagement in the communities where we operate. We look forward to welcoming our newest colleagues to Eastern and continuing to serve the needs of our customers with a comprehensive suite of banking and wealth management services.”

The deal will see Rivers become executive chair and board chair but give the CEO role over to Cambridge Trust chairman, President and CEO Denis Sheahan, while Eastern Bank vice chair and President Quincy Miller will continue in that role with added responsibilities as chief operating officer.

“This is an exciting time as our two banks come together to offer outstanding capabilities and enhanced opportunities for products and services to our valued customers. Many of the familiar faces that customers have come to know will continue in their roles, and we look forward to introducing all customers to the strengths of the combined organization and continuing to serve our communities,” Sheahan said in a statement provided by Eastern Bank.

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Eastern, Cambridge Trust Finally Cleared to Merge

Banker & Tradesman fi…