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Sidhu takes over Chesco bank in $14M deal, plans growth

Ex-Sovereign Bancorp chief executive Jay S. Sidhu has taken the top jobs of chairman and CEO at tiny New Century Bank, Phoenixville, after helping raise $13.6 million in a private placement to recapitalize the troubled lender.

Jay S. Sidhu, forced out as head of the former Sovereign Bancorp in a shareholder rebellion three years ago, has taken the top jobs of chairman and CEO at tiny New Century Bank, Phoenixville, after helping raise $13.6 million in a private placement to recapitalize the troubled lender.

He replaces the bank's founder, Kenneth B. Mumma, who'll stay on the board. New Century, with five branches, $300 million in assets, and $30 million in capital, is a gnat compared to $90 billion Soveriegn, now part of Spain's Banco Santander SA. But Sidhu reminded me Sovereign started almost as small when he joined it in the 1980s.

"We have big plans," Sidhu told me. "We will try to do organic growth and M&A growth. My hope is within a year or two it will be at least a  billion dollar bank. At the right time we will do an IPO and take it public.

"We think there is a huge opportunity to have a unique selling proposition. I don't want to talk about that yet. But we will position ourselves against Wells Fargo and Bank of America and PNC. There's a tremendous demand for a bank where people feel their money is absolutely safe." 

If Sidhu's in hiring mode, we expect a lot of his former Sovereign employees will be looking for work soon, as Santander prepares to consolidate Sidhu's former Reading headquarters. Will he put the band back together? "No question about it," Sidhu says. "We're looking for the best talent."