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Fulton Financial Corp. to buy Columbia, Md.- based firms

July 28, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

Fulton Financial Corp., parent company of Hagerstown Trust Co., signed an agreement Tuesday to acquire Columbia, Md.-based Columbia Bancorp and its banking subsidiary The Columbia Bank, for an estimated $313 million, the company said in a written statement.

Fulton presented second-quarter earnings Tuesday morning of $41.6 million, up 9.8 percent from the second quarter of 2004. Company President and Chief Operating Officer R. Scott Smith Jr., as part of his remarks on the earnings, said Fulton will look to expand into much of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and scattered sections of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to build upon the Lancaster, Pa.-based financial holding company's existing branch locations.

Fulton Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rufus A. Fulton Jr. said the Columbia acquisition, including 19 full-service community banking offices and five retirement community banking offices in Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore counties, helps to advance the company's expansion plans.

"This will be our third acquisition in Maryland and our largest acquisition to date," Fulton said in the statement. "The Columbia Bank enjoys the largest market share (16.2 percent) in Howard County, Md., and has been very successful in other markets as well. The Columbia Bank market area is geographically central to our existing franchise in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia."

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Columbia Chairman and CEO John M. Bond Jr. said he believes the acquisition will enable his bank to strengthen its operations while retaining the company's brand name and identity.

"We share Fulton's corporate culture, we like the way they operate their organization and we appreciate Fulton's recognition of our successes to date," Bond said. "We know that our ability to leverage the size and strength of Fulton Financial while retaining our name, our board, our employees and the ability to make decisions locally will benefit our communities in the years to come."

Fulton now owns three bank affiliates in Maryland, including Hagerstown Trust, The Columbia Bank and The People's Bank of Elkton, in Cecil County. It also operates Resource Bank in Virginia, with branches in Fairfax, Chesapeake, Richmond, Newport News and Virginia Beach.

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