County Commerce Bank shareholders approved its proposed merger with Citizens Business Bank, which is expected to close on Feb. 29.
“Citizens Business Bank’s philosophy and business model is very similar to ours and is the perfect fit for County Commerce Bank, and most importantly, our customers and employees. We are excited to be partnering with them,” County Commerce Chairman and CEO Joseph Kreutz said in a news release. “Citizens will expand upon our well-established foundation while continuing our commitment to providing excellent service to our business and consumer customers. Our shareholders will benefit from the opportunity to own CVBF’s NASDAQ-listed stock with over 100 quarters of consecutive cash dividend payments. We are looking forward to a smooth transition.”
The proposed merger would strengthen Citizens’ commercial banking presence in Ventura County and fuel its regional expansion. County Commerce earned 40 consecutive “Five Star” quarterly rankings by Bauer Financial. Citizens, which is owned by its parent company CVB Financial Corp., has produced positive earnings in 155 consecutive quarters and paid a cash dividend in 105 straight quarters.
Ontario-based Citizens, which has maintained a strong presence in the San Fernando Valley, would gain County Commerce’s branches in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo and Westlake Village.
Chris Myers, Citizens president and CEO, said that Ventura County has strong agriculture and small business sectors and the deal would allow the bank to expand throughout Santa Barbara County and beyond.
“It’s all about the geographic expansion. It’s not about the cost,” he told the Business Times in October. “It’s about us building market penetration in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to become the regional bank of high quality there.”
In exchange for all of County Commerce’s common stock and options, Citizens would pay $41.25 million — half in stock and half in cash. That equates to $16.79 per County Commerce share.
County Commerce shareholders would hold approximately 1.16 percent of CVBF’s outstanding common stock.
Citizens does not plan on closing any branches and would retain the majority of the banks’ employees, the bank CEOs said.
County Commerce shares rose $2.78, more than 20 percent, to $16.13 on the first day of trading after the proposed merger was announced. County Commerce stock closed at $16.30 on Jan. 29 while Citizens closed at $15.31.
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