What changes could Berkshire Bank’s acquisition of Commerce Bank bring?


Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

By Alban Murtishi | MassLive.com

Commerce Bank is set to be taken over by Berkshire Hills Bank in a $ 209 million deal that could have a major influence on Worcester’s ongoing renaissance. So early in the deal, it’s still unclear all of the changes the Berkshire acquisition will have to Commerce’s offices, employees and community partners. The deal has yet to be approved by regulators.

Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about Commerce Bank and the Berkshire Acquisition.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

How does Commerce Bank relate to Worcester?

Commerce Bank is closely linked to the businesses and economy of Worcester. The bank has around $ 2.2 billion in assets, mostly in the form of loans. There are 16 branches in Massachusetts. It was bought by David “Duddie” Massad and other business owners in 1993 after nearly going bankrupt. Nearly ten influential banking associations or benefit from the support of Commerce. In addition, the bank’s name appears at Foley Stadium in Worcester.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

Who is “Duddie?” “

Massad, also known as “Duddie” in the community, is the owner of Commerce Bank. According to Telegram & Gazette, in 2009, Massad owned more than 90 percent of the bank’s shares.

An often polarizing figure, Massad is deeply connected to the Worcester community. He has been the target of several prosecutions by former associates, and for years he has refuted allegations and allegations that he had links to criminal elements in the city.

He appeared in court in 2008 after rumors he gave money to Carlo Mastrototaro, a known Mafia figure in Worcester. Massad has never been legally convicted of any wrongdoing. He also has the pulse of many developments across Worcester, keys to the city, has built his career initially on car dealerships and connections with several non-profit groups.

It’s unclear what Massad’s role is in the Commerce Bank acquisition, and what the next step is for the 88-year-old businessman. He was quoted in a Berkshire Hills press release that he was excited about the deal. The telegram and the gazette reported that acquisition talks were triggered by Commerce Bank over succession issues. It has also been reported that Massad’s daughter will be joining the Berkshire Hills board of directors.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

More Commerce branches to open

The value of the shares in the transaction is $ 209 million. The Commerce Bank acquisition results in a $ 2.2 billion increase in Berkshire Hills assets. Berkshire Bank, with more than 90 branches in Massachusetts, plans to add 16 branches in central and eastern Massachusetts once the deal is finalized. In addition, each Commerce Stock share will now be exchanged for 0.93 Berkshire Hills share.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

And the name?

Berkshire Bank’s CFO told MassLive they plan to keep the Commerce Bank name in Worcester, due to the strength of the brand.

The bank also uses the current Boston Commerce office and a temporary headquarters until the acquisition is approved. Customers of Commerce Bank in Boston should expect to see the Berkshire Hills Bank name and brand used.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

Why does Berkshire Hills want Commerce Bank?

Berkshire Hills officials have indicated they want to expand their influence in New England. The deal will make it the second-largest bank in the New England region, give them a significant footprint in central Massachusetts, and help them settle in Boston. There are still discussions on the location of their new headquarters in Boston, although the discussions have included the Seaport District and the Financial District.

When the deal ends, Berkshire Hills will have more than 100 branches, nearly $ 12 billion in assets and significant positions statewide.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

What happens next?

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval. Commerce Bank CEO Brian Thompson said the process could take up to a year and customers doing business with Commerce would not notice any change in services or look for another 6-9 months.

“It will be business as usual,” said Thompson.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

What about the employees?

The two banks have remained silent on the future of Commerce Bank employees under the acquisition agreement. Thompson said the acquisition of Berkshire Hill means Commerce Bank will be able to have “even more products and services to offer” to its customers. Discussions are also underway to add 16 branches in eastern and central Massachusetts.

“We have a lot of great people working at Commerce and we see a lot of them continuing in the Berkshire Hills environment, continuing to serve customers… life won’t change for many,” said Thompson.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

And the Foley stadium?

At this point, it doesn’t look like the name of the field will change. Mark Pedrotti, Marketing Manager at Berkshire Hills Bank, Commerce Bank’s name will remain on Foley Stadium, and Thompson said any name change to Foley Stadium will likely reflect any changes in Worcester branches.

Any change in the appointment decision would likely come later in the year during sponsorship renewal talks.

“We’ve been involved with Foley Stadium for nine years, we have a great relationship with the city and we expect these discussions to take place during the renewal process in about a year,” said Thompson.

Alban Murtishi, MassLive.com

What about non-profit partners?

The future of nonprofit groups partnering with Commerce Bank is a major concern for city and business officials. Despite being early in the deal, several business leaders and bank officials are trying to allay those concerns.

“Commerce Bank is an amazing community partner,” said Tim Garvin, CEO of United Way of Central Massachusetts, highlighting the bank’s involvement in food drives, book drives and volunteer hours. “From everything we have seen, read and heard, Berkshire Bank is just as deeply involved in the community.”

Thompson said he expects the same as well.

“In a general sense, Berkshire Hills has a long history of volunteering and a strong relationship with nonprofit partners, and they have an excellent reputation with all the communities in which they operate. I wouldn’t expect anything else. thing in Worcester … “

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