Effective January 1, 2002, People's Heritage Bank, NA changed its name to
Effective January 1, 2002. First Massachusetts Bank, N.A. (d/b/a
"GBT"), Bank of New Hampshire, N.A., The Howard Bank, N.A., First Vermont
Bank, N.A., Franklin Lamoille Bank, N.A., and Evergreen Bank, N.A. merged with and
into People's Heritage Bank, N.A. under the latter's charter number. The resulting
bank title is Banknorth, National Association.
Effective August 31, 2002. Banking Commissioner approved the
application of Banknorth Group, Inc. to acquire and retain the ownership and control
of 100 percent of the issued and outstanding voting stock of Bancorp Connecticut,
Inc., and indirectly, Southington Savings Bank, and issued a notice of intent not to
disapprove such acquisitions. The Commissioner also approved the merger of Southington
Savings Bank, with and into Banknorth, National Association.
Effective February 14, 2003. Banking Commissioner approved the
application of Banknorth Group, Inc., a holding company with its principal place of
business in Portland, ME, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Banknorth, National
Association, to acquire American Financial Holdings, Inc., New Britain, and its
wholly-owned subsidiary, American Savings Bank, a state-chartered savings bank
headquartered in New Britain, and the subsequent merger of American Savings Bank with
and into Banknorth, National Association.
June 21, 2004. Banknorth Group recently finalized its acquisitions
of CCBT Financial Companies, Inc., the parent company of Cape Cod Bank and Trust
Company, and Foxborough Savings Bank.
"Portland, Me.-based Banknorth Group has signed a letter of
intent to acquire Drake, Swan & Crocker Insurance Agency, Inc. of Orleans, Mass.
Banknorth Insurance Group, a subsidiary of Banknorth Group (NYSE:
BNK) in Portland, Maine, is the largest insurance group in New England and the 44th
largest in the country..."
March 1, 2005. TD Bank Financial Group and Banknorth Group, Inc.
announced a definitive agreement for TD Bank Financial Group to acquire 51% of the
outstanding shares of Banknorth. The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are
collectively known as TD Bank Financial Group. Banknorth Group, Inc., headquartered in
Portland, Maine, operates a division of Banknorth, N.A. in Connecticut.
July 12, 2005. TD Banknorth Inc. and Hudson United Bancorp
announced that they have signed a definitive agreement for TD Banknorth to acquire
Hudson United for approximately US$1.9 billion in cash and TD Banknorth stock. On a
pro forma basis, the transaction will create a regional financial services company
with 590 branches, 751 ATMs and over US$26 billion in deposits across 8 northeastern
William J. Ryan, president and chief executive officer of Banknorth
Group, the Portland, Maine-based banking and insurance company, thinks big about
The nation's 37th largest bank, the fourth largest in New England
behind FleetBoston Financial, Sovereign and Citizens, Banknorth Group strives to be a
big bank that provides the same level of customer service as small banks.
Customer service is "a religion with us," says Ryan, 58,
Banknorth Group's president and chief executive officer.
That might comfort longtime customers at Andover Bank, who learned
in June it would join the other community banks in Banknorth Group's stable.
Banknorth Group's purchase of Andover Bancorp for $333 million in
stock and Framingham-based Metrowest Bank for $133 million in cash, received
regulatory approval last week and became final yesterday.
"I like to tell our people, we don't have to be the best
looking or the brightest, but we do have to work a lot harder than most to keep this
company where it is," Ryan says.
Such Frank Capra-like banking wisdom would seem a little
far-fetched for a bank with 400 branches in six states, and whose assets will surpass
$20 billion with yesterday's two acquisitions. But Ryan has already impressed others
with his sincerity and his ability to build a banking conglomerate that still
functions like a community bank.
"I think of all the CEOs I've gotten to know over the years,
Bill is probably the most accessible, most no-nonsense CEO I've met. He doesn't really
have a lot of ego," said James Ackor, banking analyst for brokerage firm Tucker
Anthony in Portland, Maine.
Ackor who has covered Banknorth for seven years, says the company's
modus operandi has been to look for like-minded banks with sound management and strong
positions at the edge of Banknorth's reach, then acquire them. When Banknorth acquired
Family Bank of Haverhill in 1996, it seemed only natural it would try to build a
"critical mass" of Massachusetts bank branches by extending into the
"very attractive" Andover market, Ackor said.
"(Ryan) has really delivered on all of the promises he has
made to his shareholders and he has done it without exposing them to a lot of
risk," he said.
In fact, Ryan got his start as a bank president down the street
from Andover, on Lawrence's Essex Street. Ryan, a Cumberland Center, Maine, native,
holds degrees from St. Francis College in New York and Rutgers University in New
Jersey. In 1987, Ryan went to work for Bay State National Bank, then a property of New
England Merchants Bank of Boston. His role expanded when Bank of New England bought
Merchants Bank, giving him responsibility for the entire Boston North region.
"I really have special ties to the Merrimack Valley because it
was my first opportunity to act as bank president," Ryan said.
In 1990, when Bank of New England failed and was purchased by
Fleet, Ryan accepted a position from People's Heritage Bank of Maine.
He took over a bank that was dangerously overextended and lost $90
million from 1990 to 1992 from unrecoverable loans, most of them in real estate.
"We weren't worried about joining banking's elite back then.
We were the 135th-largest bank in New England, two months away from failing,"
Ryan told American Banker in 1999.
Ryan replaced 25 of the company's top 35 managers and worked to
diversify the bank's holdings. He tightened the bank's loan approval process and tried
to make it more conservative.
"If it comes to you easy, you better rethink what you are
doing," said Ryan, explaining what he learned from that period.
Although many of its Maine rivals failed, Heritage did not. It
acquired Portland-based Banknorth in 1999 for $781 million, changing its name to
Banknorth Group. The bank's total assets pushed past $5 billion, then $10 billion,
then $15 billion.
"The turnaround in banking, with all those mergers, he was a
real leader in that," said John Fitzpatrick, president and chief executive
officer of Lawrence's First Essex Bank from 1974 to 1989.
Now that Ryan and Banknorth are once again taking up posts in the
Merrimack Valley, Ryan says he wants Banknorth to feel just like a local bank, except
in the number of services it can offer.
"There are some advantages of being big as long as you
understand that the services still have to be given in a very local way," Ryan
Some of those advantages will likely be larger lending capacity,
investment counseling for municipalities as well as individuals and Sunday banking
hours at some of its branches.
"We were the first bank in Maine to be open on Sundays, we
were the first in Massachusetts to be open on Sundays, and we were the first in New
England to have supermarket branches, so we have a long history of taking aggressive
positions in customer service," said Ryan,.
Heads of competing local banks already say they question whether a
Maine-based conglomerate can compete with their knowledge of local communities --
although they say they welcome Banknorth and Ryan to the field.
"We can out-local them -- we understand our marketplace very
well," said Leonard Wilson, president and chief executive officer of First Essex
Bank in Andover.
Banknorth's size does pose a problem, financial analyst Ackor
"You reach a point where it becomes increasingly difficult to
present yourself as a community bank," he said. That point would have been
accumulating $20 billion in assets until Banknorth pushed past that point today. Now
Ackor said he thinks if anyone can manage it, Ryan and Banknorth may be the ones.
"(Ryan) has done a very good job in delegating and
distributing authority, and that is one of the big secrets to his success. I think he
has raised the bar," Ackor said.