Feb 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

M&T Bank is the latest to snap up another regional lender

Data: FactSet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: FactSet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

M&T Bank today became the latest to glom on to the "bigger is better" mentality swarming regional banks.

Why it matters: It adds to the parade of regional lenders — which have taken an active role in distributing PPP loans — swallowing each other in an effort to survive a more treacherous backdrop.

  • Net interest margin — a key way banks make money — collectively hit an all-time low for U.S. banks last year. The culprits: low interest rates and sluggish lending.
  • There's also growing competition from big players, like JPMorgan and Bank of America, that are bulking up in additional states and offering more digital banking options.

Details: M&T is buying People's United Financial for $7.6 billion in an all-stock deal.

  • The combined bank would have roughly $200 billion in assets, per the release. That catapults M&T to the fifth-largest regional bank by this measure, according to FactSet. (Previously, it was the 10th).
  • Yes, but: Even with the tie-up, M&T won't crack the top 10 biggest banks overall by assets.

The big picture: Today's action follows PNC Financial's purchase of BBVA's U.S. branches last year, which — if approved — would create the largest regional lender in the U.S.

  • Another: Huntington announced it would buy regional peer TCF Financial late last year, giving them combined assets of roughly $170 billion.

What they're saying: Part of the thinking is you can consolidate then grow that way, says Stephen Biggar, a banking analyst at research firm Argus Research.

What to watch: The regional tie-ups are among the first bank deals that will face regulatory scrutiny in the Biden era.

  • Executives expect the deal will close in the fourth quarter of 2021.
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