Beneficial Mutual Bancorp's planned purchase of SE Financial (St. Edmond's Federal Savings Bank), a merger of two traditionally Catholic-run Philadelphia lenders, will likely result in branch closures and layoffs, since three of St. E's five branches are located around the corner from Beneficial branches, notes Janney Capital Markets analyst Rick Weiss.
The deal may also be a sign Gerry Cuddy's Beneficial, the largest bank still based in Philadelphia, has worked through enough of its bad loans, and cut enough jobs and other expenses, that it can expect to win the approval that has eluded First Republic, Metro Bank, and other Pennsylvania lenders that tried and failed to win government support for mergers since the credit crisis of 2008.
Weiss put it a little differently, calling the deal "another sign that Beneficial’s management team has gained increased confidence regarding asset quality." Weiss and analyst Jason O'Donnell of Boenning & Scattergood both think the deal brings Beneficial closer to converting fully from a mutual, depositor-owned structure to a shareholder-owned bank.
Beneficial is the biggest bank still based in Philadelphia. Would an investor-owned Beneficial stay independent, or join the long list of Phillly banks whose bosses and investors sell out, take the money and go?