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Banking News Sussex County

Bank of Delmarva parent co. closes merger with LINK

Katie Tabeling
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Bank of Delmarva Partners Linkbankcorp Rehoboth Beach

Partners Bancorp, the parent company of both Seaford-based Bank of Delmarva and Virginia Partners Bank, will be acquired by Linkbankcorp. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

SEAFORD — After some delay, LINKBANCORP Inc. and Partners Bancorp completed their $161.5 million merger on Dec. 1, bringing 18 banks on the Delmarva Peninsula under the LINK Bank name.

Partners Bancorp, the parent company of both Seaford-based Bank of Delmarva and Virginia Partners Bank, received approval from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on Nov. 30 to close the deal. LINK originally aimed to close the deal in the third quarter, but that schedule moved to either the third or fourth quarter of 2023. 

The all-stock transaction means LINK will have $2.3 billion deposits, $2.2 billion in loans across central and southeastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and southern New Jersey in 31 locations. The total assets of the institution are roughly $2.8 billion.

Under the proposal, Partners shareholders were slated to receive 1.15 shares of LINK stock for each Partners stock owned. Upon completion of the transaction, Partners shareholders will own approximately 56% and Link shareholders will own approximately 44% of the combined company.

“We are delighted with the closing of this transformational combination that establishes LINKBANK as a premier mid-Atlantic community bank franchise,” LINK CEO Andrew Samuel said in a statement. “We look forward to moving forward united with an experienced and respected board, leadership team, and employees highly focused on building sustained value for our key stakeholders.”

Partners has more than a century of history on the Delmarva peninsula through Bank of Delmarva, with branches in Maryland, Virginia and southern Delaware. The company had 160 employees through its three subsidiaries: the Bank of Delmarva (Maryland and Delaware), Virginia Partners (Virginia) and Liberty Bell Bank (Philadelphia/South Jersey region).

LINK Bank was formed in 2018 when it was acquired by West Chester, Pa.-based Stonebridge Bank and later Gratz Bank in central Pennsylvania. In a third quarter report issued in late October, the institution reported a net income of $1.24 million, noting that deposits have grown by 13% over the calendar year.

That report also showed LINK estimated that the merger would cost $777,000 in that quarter and $315,000 in the final quarter. The fourth quarter report will finalize those one-time expenses.

Key Partners executives would also be retained to smooth translation. Partners CEO John Breda will serve as CEO of the Delmarva market and Partners Chairman Jeffrey Turner will serve as vice chairman of the LINK board of directors until chairman Joseph Michetti Jr. steps down. Nine other Partners directors have been appointed to the board.

Other executives include: Adam Nalls, market CEO of the Northern Virginia market; David Talebian, market president of Northern Virginia; Wallace King, regional president of the Fredericksburg region; J.D. Zachry, regional president of the Central region; and Carl Cottingham, regional president of the Delmarva region. 

LINKBANK’s existing Delaware Valley region will continue to be led by Regional President Drew Smith with the addition of John Herring as a regional president for New Jersey. 

“We are excited to join the LINKBANK team and work together to benefit all of our stakeholders,” Breda said in a statement. “The increased scale and resources resulting from this combination will enable us to provide customers with a robust suite of products and customer service capabilities that will continue to be delivered through a regional, relationship-based community banking model.”

The announcement formally ended Partners’ search for a partner, as the financial institution had been on the market for at least two years, and first announced a deal with  OceanFirst Financial Corp. of New Jersey in 2021. But that deal ended a year later when it took longer than expected to secure regulatory approval.

United States bank deals are still stymied by slow closing timelines, as the median time is 162 days in the past year, according to analysts at S&P Global. LINK Bank closed the deal in 218 days; the Ocean First proposal was called off after roughly 370 days.

With a combined 31 banks and centers, LINK has now vaulted to the top 10 community banks based on access in the mid-Atlantic region from its previous position of 33rd on the list. It also positions LINK to now operate in the Washington D.C./Virginia market, which has an average household income of $117,000 to $142,000.

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