Sandy Spring buying WashingtonFirst, becoming ‘largest locally based’ community bank

WASHINGTON — Olney, Maryland-based Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc. will acquire Reston, Virginia-based WashingtonFirst Bank in a deal worth $489 million.

Sandy Spring, the oldest community bank in Maryland, said the deal will make it the largest locally-based community bank in the Washington region with $7.5 billion in assets.

United Bank, which has made a string of Washington area bank acquisitions in recent years, might challenge Sandy Spring’s claim to the title, with its $19 billion in assets, though it shares dual headquarters in Washington and Charleston, West Virginia.

Sandy Spring Bancorp CEO Daniel Schrider says the acquisition of WashingtonFirst gives Sandy Spring the scale to continue to grow. (Courtesy Sandy Spring)

Sandy Spring CEO Daniel Schrider told WTOP Sandy Spring’s single headquarters in Olney gives it “largest locally based” status.

It is the latest consolidation in a string of D.C.-area community bank mergers, including United Bankshares Inc.’s $900 million acquisition of Cardinal Financial Corporation.

United Bank has led the local acquisition spree, completing 10 bank acquisitions, including the Bank of Georgetown last year and Virginia Commerce Bank in 2013.

For Sandy Spring, was it a case of buy or be bought?

“Absolutely not,” Schrider told WTOP.

“From a strategic perspective, we see ourselves very much positioned for the future. We have a 150-year track record behind us and great momentum in terms of earnings growth. The combination provides us the scale, size and access that will allow us to continue to grow.”

Sandy Spring had record net income of $15.1 million in the first quarter.

The Sandy Spring-WashingtonFirst merger still requires shareholder and regulatory approval, but it is expected to close later this year.

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Sandy Spring, founded in 1860, has 44 area branches and $5.2 billion in assets. WashingtonFirst has 19 branches and $2.1 billion in assets.

Sandy Spring said there will be branch closings as part of the merger, though it says it is too soon to determine where overlap will require closings. WashingtonFirst branches will begin rebranding as Sandy Spring branches in 2018.



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