January 26, 2018

Commerce merger fuels 82% Berkshire income growth

Courtesy/Creative Commons/Terageorge
The Commerce Bank location on Main Street in Worcester.

Berkhshire Hills Bancorp, Inc grew its pre-tax income by 82 percent in the fourth quarter, primarily due to the $230-million merger with Worcester-based Commerce Bancshares Corp.

The merger, which closed in October, created an $11.6-billion financial institution by adding about $1.8 billion in assets to Berkshire, which then decided to move its Pittsfield headquarters to Boston.

Berkshire's pretax income of $19.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 increased compared to $10.7 million in the prior year.

In a press release, Berkshire CEO Michael Daly said the bank has grown its assets by more than 30 percent since the end of 2016 and has become the third largest regional bank based in New England.

As part of the merger, Berkshire took over 16 Commerce branches in the Worcester and Boston area. Thirteen in Greater Worcester retained the Commerce name while the rest were converted to Berkshire branches.

"The Commerce merger was also the catalyst for the move of our corporate headquarters to Boston, positioning us as the largest regional banking company located there," Daly said.

The merger brought an increase of $1.2 billion in loans, goodwill and tangible asset increases of $137 million and a 61-percent commercial loan increase, the bank said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said only five Commerce Bank branches retained the old bank's name, when 13 of the 16 did.

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