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United Bankshares expands D.C. reach with Va. bank buy

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- United Bankshares Inc. says its acquisition of Virginia Commerce Bancorp Inc. last week increased its market share to 3 percent, making it No. 1 among independent community banks in the nation's capital.

United CEO Richard Adams announced last week that the banking companies signed a definitive merger agreement.

United is buying Arlington, Va.-based VCBI in a $490.6 million deal that expands United's presence in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

The VCBI acquisition will add 28 banking offices to the D.C. area, as well as a residential mortgage origination office and a wealth management office. Eleven of those offices are located within one mile of a United Bankshares bank, according to information given to the Gazette by Steve Wilson, United's executive vice president and chief financial officer.

The move makes United the eighth-biggest bank in the D.C. metro area, as measured by deposit market share, according to the company.

"[The transaction] strengthens UBSI's leading position as the largest independent banking franchise in the attractive northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., markets," the company said in the report.

The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million people, according to United's presentation. It is the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and third wealthiest in median household income.

The acquisition of VCBI will "enhance footprints" in the D.C. market, United said.

VCBI has $2.8 billion in assets.

With this acquisition, United, which has dual headquarters in Charleston and Washington, D.C., will boost its total assets by one-third, to $11.2 billion.

United has $8.4 billion in assets and 115 full-service offices in West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

On Jan. 29, United said its fourth-quarter earnings increased 5 percent from the year before, to $21.2 million or 42 cents a share.

Earnings for last year totaled $82.6 million, which is a 9 percent increase from the company's $75.6 million earnings in 2011.

United has completed 28 acquisitions since 1982.

The last transaction took place in 2010 when United bought Morgantown-based Centra Financial Holdings, the parent company of Centra Bank.

The $186.9 million deal increased the company's reach in West Virginia and Maryland and expanded into Pennsylvania.

Centra had $1.4 billion is assets and 15 branches at the time.

In 2009, Centra made national headlines after it became the first bank in the U.S. to pay off the funds it received from the federal government as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Centra returned the $15 million it borrowed, as well as an additional $750,000 to buy back warrants the Treasury was holding that gave the government an ownership stake in the bank.

VCBI recently repurchased $71 million of preferred stock issued under the TARP Capital Purchase Program, according to United officials.

The deal values VCBI at $14 per share, or a 14.6 percent one-day market premium on its closing price Jan. 29, according to United.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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