Two new acquisitions will not only strengthen Banknorth Group Inc.s network of banks in the Boston area but also represent potential new customers for its growing insurance business, a bank executive says.
In deals that it hopes to complete late this year, Portland, Maine-based Banknorth in June simultaneously bought Andover Bancorp Inc. in Andover, Mass., for about $333 million in stock and MetroWest Bank in Framingham for around $166 million in cash.
The acquisitions would increase the company’s total assets from around $18 billion to around $21 billion and would add more than 30 branches to Banknorths network, and expand its Massachusetts banking franchise to 114 branches and nearly $9 billion in assets.
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A bank spokesperson said it expected to continue operating virtually all of the acquired banks branch offices.
Banknorths insurance subsidiary is Morse, Payson & Noyes Insurance, a broker it purchased in 1997, with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey. MPN offers a variety of life, long-term care and employee benefits plans, along with property/casualty and commercial products.
“We have in little over three years gone from zero agencies to the largest network of agencies in New England,” says Mickey Greene, executive vice president of insurance and investments for Banknorth.
Late last year, it entered the Connecticut insurance market with the purchase of the Watson Group, an insurance agency in Wethersfield, Conn.
Neither MetroWest nor Andover have major insurance programs. Brian Manning, chief financial officer of MetroWest, describes his banks insurance subsidiary as “inactive” after being established a year ago. Joseph Casey, Andovers CFO, says his companys insurance sales volume is “not significant.”
However, the addition of new bank branches in the lucrative Boston area will allow its agencies offices, using cross-referrals, to spur sales of annuities, employee benefits, life and other lines of insurance, Greene says.
The bank keeps careful track of all leads it supplies to its insurance and investment subsidiaries, Greene notes. Insurance is highly promoted to platform personnel, who are expected to refer customers to investment and insurance products sold by the banks subsidiaries.