ESSA Bank & Trust eyes Monroe acquisition

By - Last modified: August 19, 2013 at 11:24 AM

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ESSA Bank & Trust of Stroudsburg plans to acquire retail banking activities from Monroe County offices of First National Community Bank, the subsidiary of First National Community Bancorp Inc.

ESSA Bank & Trust will purchase the deposits and loans of two FNCB branches and one FNCB building in Monroe County, said Gary S. Olson, ESSA's president and CEO. He told Lehigh Valley Business that customer deposits and loans from the FNCB Stroudsburg office will be transferred to ESSA's Stroudsburg facility.

"They are keeping the Stroudsburg building for now, we will buy the Marshalls Creek building," Olson said. ESSA Bank & Trust plans to consolidate two of its branches in Bushkill and Marshalls Creek into the new facility. The transaction is expected to close in December, subject to regulatory approval.

"This acquisition will add to our retail deposit base in Monroe County, where we have the leading market share of retail deposits," Olson said. "We are purchasing a conveniently located, highly visible and attractive facility, and improving our efficiency by consolidating two of our nearby locations into this new facility. Both companies plan to work closely together to facilitate a smooth transition for branch customers."

When the transaction is completed, the Marshalls Creek branch on Route 209 will be part of the ESSA Bank & Trust network. The company anticipates the new branch will have combined deposits totaling more than $40 million.

ESSA Bank will go from 26 to 25 branches, Olson said.

One of the main drivers for the acquisition and consolidation plan is the changing traffic patterns for ESSA Bank's customers as a result of the Marshalls Creek bypass under construction, Olson said this morning.

"We needed a location that provided easier access for our customers," Olson said.

First National Community Bank began to see that it couldn't stay profitable operating retail branches in Monroe County.

"After much analysis, we determined that it was not conducive with our forward-looking strategic plan," said Joseph Earyes, first senior vice president and chief retail banking operations officer for First National Community Bank. "For us, this transaction will immediately improve our operating efficiencies and improve our capital ratios."

He told Lehigh Valley Business that upon completion of the deal, First National will not have any retail banking activities in Monroe County and will instead focus on its core service areas of Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties.

First National Community Bancorp. is based in Dunmore.

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it. Brian also has a strong interest in health and fitness. He works part-time as a personal trainer at Steel Fitness Riverport in Bethlehem and earned his personal fitness trainer certification from World Instructor Training Schools.

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