Riverview Financial to merge with Clearfield bank

Riverview Financial Corp. is combining forces with Clearfield County-based CBT Financial Corp. in a move being billed as a merger of equals.

Susquehanna Township-based Riverview will lend its name to the surviving entity in the merger, which will create a bank holding company with $1.2 billion in assets, $400 million in assets under management and 33 offices across 12 counties. The transaction is valued at roughly $50 million.

Riverview Financial‘s headquarters will move to the State College area, close to the center of the combined entity’s footprint. Its local subsidiary, Riverview Bank, will continue to be based in Dauphin County.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Riverview Financial president Brett Fulk noted the merger comes at a time when many small and midsized institutions are looking into possible partnerships. Although midstate banks generally reported increased earnings in 2016, factors like regulatory burden continue to put a squeeze on resources.

Those same factors drew CBT into the merger.

“I don’t know if there’s ever a good time or bad time or right time or wrong time. Growth is just something banks have to do,” CBT CEO Michael Bibak said.

Neither bank was specifically looking for a merger of equals as it sought a growth partner, though such transactions are not foreign to Riverview, Fulk noted. In fact, Riverview Financial formed in 2008 as a merger of equals between Halifax National Bank and First National Bank of Marysville.

“They’re not easy to do,” Fulk said of mergers of equals. “A lot of times they break down because of what many refer to as social issues.”

Those issues include deciding who gets what leadership positions, and how much representation each predecessor company has on the combined entity’s board. Executives at Riverview and CBT were able to put aside their needs and ambitions for the good of the new institution, Fulk said. 

The arrangement also allowed the partnering institutions to have near-equal say in what they wanted their new venture to look like, Bibak said, in addition to letting CBT avoid the kinds of personnel cuts that might happen merging into a much larger institution.

Riverview Financial CEO Kirk Fox will keep his title with the new company, as will Fulk. Bibak will serve as COO.

Riverview shareholders will own about 54 percent of the combined business, with CBT and Riverview having equal representation on the new board of directors.

In a news release, Fox touted the merger as a win for Riverview’s shareholders as well as customers. The latter will benefit from “higher lending limits, a wider range of technology and more banking locations,” he said.

CBT’s Bibak expressed similar optimism in the release, citing Riverview’s history of successful partnerships with other banks and finance companies. Riverview has been involved in several mergers in recent years, including with Citizens National Bank in Somerset County in early 2016.

Riverview had $543 million in assets as of the end of last year, while CBT had roughly $480 million.

CBT’s 13 offices in Clearfield, Huntingdon, Blair and Centre counties will keep the CBT name after the merger but operate as divisions of Riverview.

Jennifer Wentz
Jennifer Wentz covers Lancaster County, York County, financial services, taxation and legal services. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at jwentz@cpbj.com.

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