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Startup Linkbank seeks to acquire Stonebridge

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Andrew Samuel, startup bank Linkbank's chairman and CEO
Andrew Samuel, startup bank Linkbank's chairman and CEO - (Photo / )

Linkbank, a new community bank planning a summer launch in Central Pennsylvania, is asking federal and state regulators for permission to acquire Stonebridge Bank in West Chester.

The bank's holding company, Stonebridge Financial Corp., filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Philadelphia in 2015.

Its subsidiary, Stonebridge Bank, did not and remains in operation.

Linkbank has an agreement to purchase the bank only, said Andrew Samuel, who will be LinkBank's chairman and CEO.

Stonebridge has one branch and assets of $58 million, down significantly from previous years, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It reported a net loss of $232,000 in the first quarter of 2018.

Samuel said he's not worried about the bank's troubled balance sheet because Linkbank has a strong management team and plenty of capital. 

The startup bank last month completed a capital campaign that began June 1. As of June 27, Samuel said he and his management team had raised $40 million, with money still coming in.

In addition to Stonebridge, Linkbank is planning two other branches: one in Camp Hill and another in Lancaster. The Lancaster branch has not yet been finalized, while the company has signed a lease for a Camp Hill location at 3045 Market St. 

Linkbank is still awaiting state and federal regulatory approvals to buy Stonebridge. Once Linkbank receives the approvals, Samuel said, it will be ready to open. 

Samuel said he and his team looked at four different banks but ultimately decided on Stonebridge Bank because it was the smallest charter they could find, said Samuel.

The smaller the charter, the fewer the employees, something Samuel believes will make it easier for the Linkbank management team to employ its new strategy and create its own culture.

The number of Stonebridge employees who will join the Linkbank team is yet to be determined.

Representatives from Stonebridge could not immediately be reached to say how many people the bank currently employs.

Other investors have tried to acquire Stonebridege in the past.

Former state Rep. Gordon Denlinger of Lancaster County teamed up with seven other  investors in 2015 to acquire the bank, change its name to Hamilton Bank and bring it to Lancaster County. 

But their plan hit some regulatory snags and the group last year withdrew its application to purchase the bank.

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Shelby White

Shelby White covers banking and finance, law and Lancaster County for the Central Penn Business Journal. For tips, email her at swhite@cpbj.com.

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