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Waypoint shareholders OK sale to Sovereign

December 23, 2004|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - Shareholders of Waypoint Financial Corp., which has several Tri-State bank branches, have accepted Sovereign Bancorp's offer to buy the company for about $980 million, Waypoint said Wednesday.

The acquisition will become final if a federal regulatory agency approves it.

Sovereign, which is based in Reading, Pa., is a $60 billion company with more than 650 banks, according to its Web site. It is the parent company of Sovereign Bank.

Waypoint, which is based in Harrisburg, Pa., has $5.4 billion in assets and 66 branches in Pennsylvania and Maryland, the company said in a news release announcing Wednesday's shareholder vote. It is the parent company of Waypoint Bank.

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Waypoint's branches include four in Hagerstown, one in Frederick, Md., three in Chambersburg, Pa., and one in Shippensburg, Pa., a map at the company's Web site shows.

Sovereign, which says it is the 18th-largest banking institution in the country, has eastern branches from Maine to Pennsylvania. The closest current branch to the Tri-State area is in Camp Hill, Pa., according to Sovereign's Web site.

Waypoint's branches would become Sovereign branches, Waypoint spokesman Steve Gardner said. Customers would receive notices of what changes they might see in their accounts.

The acquisition would not affect jobs at those branches, Gardner said.

Waypoint and Sovereign announced the proposal on March 9.

Waypoint's news release on Wednesday said its shareholders would receive $28 in cash, 1.262 shares of Sovereign common stock or a combination of cash and Sovereign stock in exchange for each Waypoint share.

The Office of Thrift Supervision in Washington, D.C., a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, decided on Dec. 20 that it has all of the information it needs to consider the proposal, office spokesman Kevin Petrasic said.

The office has not decided whether to approve the acquisition, he said.

In the news release, Waypoint President and Chief Executive Officer David E. Zuern said the merger is expected to be complete on Jan. 21, 2005.

Sovereign says on its Web site that it has completed 24 acquisitions since 1989.

Petrasic said people who want to comment on the acquisition can send a letter to Office of Thrift Supervision, Northeast region office, 10 Exchange Place, 18th floor, Jersey City, NJ 07302.

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