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Any doubts about National Penn's intentions now dashed

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In case no one got the message the first couple times it was said or noted during the first aborted attempt, National Penn Bancshares Inc. officially is in the merger and acquisition business.

This week, the bank that recently opened new headquarters in Allentown snared TF Financial Corp., parent company of 3rd Fed Bank of Newtown, an 18-branch operation in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. The purchase price was $138 million.

This comes after a failed attempt to acquire First Mariner Bank of Maryland in April.

One had nothing to do with the other, according to Scott V. Fainor, National Penn president and CEO. Even if the company had acquired First Mariner, it was still going after 3rd Fed.

“We’ve been talking about acquisitions in the past. We had excess capital to deploy,” he said. “We would have done both.”

And in case you still don’t believe National Penn is serious about M&A, Fainor and other bank executives are pretty open when it comes to future acquisition plans.

“If you look at our balance sheet, we have excess capital, between $200 (million) to $300 million,” said Michael Hughes, the bank’s chief financial officer.

It used only $138 million for the 3rd Fed acquisition, so if there is a bank out there that would be willing to accept that much for a sale, you might want to make sure Fainor’s on speed dial.

Oh, and it helps if you have operations in New Jersey. National Penn has been gunning to open up shop in New Jersey for “several years,” Fainor said. The bank had been doing commercial lending in New Jersey for years and had a number of executives and management who had come from New Jersey’s banking industry.

Buying 3rd Fed now gives it seven branches in the Garden State.

“This was a perfect fit for National Penn,” Fainor said.

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