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Citizens Financial Group to acquire Chicago-area bank
[October 31, 2006]

Citizens Financial Group to acquire Chicago-area bank

(Providence Journal, The (RI) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Oct. 31--Looking to expand its presence in the Chicago area, Citizens Financial Group Inc., of Providence, yesterday announced an agreement to acquire GreatBanc Inc. of Lisle, Ill., for $180 million.

The deal is the first bank acquisition by Citizens since its breakthrough purchase of Charter One Bank of Cleveland in 2004 that moved Citizens into several Midwestern states. GreatBanc will become part of Charter One, which is now operated as a Citizens subsidiary.

The addition of GreatBanc's $1 billion in deposits will move Charter One up one notch in the rankings for deposit market share in the Chicago metropolitan area.

"The Chicago market is the key market we purchased when we bought Charter One," Citizens chairman and chief executive officer Lawrence K. Fish said in an interview. "It's 13 million people, and it's the fourth-largest deposit market in the country."

Fish said Citizens has been looking for a while to acquire another bank in the Chicago area, where it currently has 131 branches.

By Citizens standards, with $164 billion in assets, the GreatBanc purchase is a small one, but it is similar to the type of purchases Citizens made in New England during the 1990s as it built itself from a tiny Rhode Island bank into one of the nation's 10 largest.

"We said when we bought Charter One, we expected once Charter One was digested that we would begin to do these bolt-on acquisitions," Fish said.

GreatBanc is a bank holding company with three community banking subsidiaries -- GreatBank, GreatBank Chicago and First National Bank -- and 10 branches overall. It is a privately held company with the majority of shares owned by chairman and CEO Roger L. Weston. It has about 200 employees.

Some layoffs and branch closings are anticipated as duplicate operations are eliminated, Fish said.

The GreatBanc deal expands Charter One's presence in Chicago, Skokie and Evanston, Ill. It also moves Charter One into several new communities around Chicago, including Olympia Fields, Chicago Heights and Frankfort.

Currently, Charter One ranks as the sixth-largest bank by deposits in the Chicago metropolitan area as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation data. Charter One holds $7.3 billion in assets from that area -- which includes portions of neighboring Indiana and Wisconsin, according to the Census Bureau -- and the addition of the $ 1billion from GreatBanc will move it ahead of Corus Bank.

Excluding neighboring Indiana and Wisconsin, Citizens will be the fourth-largest bank in the Chicago area upon completion of the deal, which is expected in the first quarter of next year.

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Providence Journal, R.I.
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