Business

BNB to merge with Brooklyn-based Dime Community Bank

BNB Bank will soon have a new name.

The parent companies for BNB Bank and Dime Community Bank announced a merger agreement last week, a transaction valued at approximately $489 million.

The combined bank will operate under the name Dime Community Bank, with branch coverage throughout Long Island, including the branch on North Ferry road. Certain retail locations on the East End will operate under the BNB Bank name for at least one year, according to a press release. It did not specify which locations.

“This highly compelling combination will allow us to build on our complementary strengths and provide significant value for shareholders,” said Kevin O’Connor, president and chief executive officer of Bridge Bancorp, in a press release. Mr. O’Connor will serve as CEO under the merger.

The combined company will have its headquarters in Hauppauge and a corporate office in New York City. The combined company will trade under the Dime ticker symbol “DCOM” on the NASDAQ stock market.

The merger is expected to close in first quarter of 2021.

BNB banks have been around for over a century and was the last Long Island-headquartered bank left on the East End.

Urge to merge — and close

In just a few short years, what started as a trickle of bank branch closings and mergers has turned into a river.

Capital One was among a handful of major banks that bucked the trend as late as 2014, actually adding more branches. But three years ago it joined the brick-and-mortar vanishing act, as reflected by branch closings on the East End, including Shelter Island.

According to The Economist, since the financial crisis of 2008, banks have closed more than 10,000 branches.

The reason, of course, is money, and the increasing ability of customers to handle most banking on their smart phones or computers.

The trend in bank closings gained traction in 2008 with the financial meltdown. According to CNBC, there had already been closings due to a surge in bank mergers and acquisitions, which first affected regional banks, and then began spreading to larger banking institutions.

For example, Capital One had taken over North Fork Bancorp in 2008.

The trend in the United States was actually behind the curve for bank branch closings in other parts of the world until 2008, according to Jim Marous, co-publisher of The Financial Brand.

“In an era of sluggish revenue growth and heavy compliance costs, most bankers are trying to close or re-configure under-performing branches as quickly as possible,” Mr. Marous reported.

There would be even more branch closings were it not for regulatory and financial considerations and public relations repercussions, he wrote.

Some under-performing branches remain open because they are tied to long-term leases. Others hanging on are trying to amortize their investments in buying or building structures for their branches.

The average cost of closing a branch can be as high as $500,000, Mr. Marous said.

“The banking industry does not need the amount of space it currently has anymore,” according to Dave Martin, executive vice president and chief development officer of Financial Supermarkets, Inc.

On Shelter Island, Chase Bank had signaled last year that it was closing. But an intervention by then-Supervisor Gary Gerth and a widespread community effort of calls and emails turned the tide against leaving the Island with only one bank, BNB.

Account holders began asking how they would function here without Chase, and business owners — such as restaurants in summer months — wouldn’t be able to make after-hours cash deposits.

Elderly residents, told they could use Chase branches on either the North or South forks, were concerned about the need to take a ferry to handle their banking business.

Mr. Gerth set up a meeting with Chase officials to appeal the decision to close the Island’s branch. In June of last year, he arrived at the local branch ready to make his case to Chase Marketing Director Candace Cartiglia, but before he could begin, the official told him he had already won his case.

She had done her homework and realized the inconvenience Islanders would face if the branch closed, he was told.

He then had a conference call with bank officials who confirmed that nothing would change.

Stopping on a Dime

Dime Community Bank is headquartered in Brooklyn and operates 28 banking offices throughout Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“Dime has earned its strong reputation in the greater New York metropolitan market, and I’m thrilled to partner with them,” said Mr. O’Connor, the new CEO of the Dime/BNB merger. “Our enhanced branch footprint and increased capital base will allow us to better serve the needs of our customers. “

The combined company will have over $11 billion in assets, over $8 billion in total deposits and 66 branches spanning Montauk to Manhattan, the companies said.

Bridge Bancorp, Inc. is the parent company of BNB Bank and Dime Community Bancshares is the parent company of Dime Community Bank.

BNB Bank had originally been known as Bridgehampton National Bank until 2017 when it converted from a national bank to a New York chartered commercial bank.

At the time of that announcement, Mr. O’Connor said Bridgehampton National Bank had been known as BNB since early in its history.

“Continuing as BNB Bank is both a nod to our strong roots on the East End of Long Island, and a look to our future growth,” he said in 2017.

Additional reporting by Julie Lane and Ambrose Clancy