Columbia Bancorp. and Fairview Federal Savings & Loan Association plan to merge, an agreement that would make The Columbia Bank the thirdlargest commercial bank in Howard County.
Columbia Bancorp is theparent company of The Columbia Bank. Fairview Federal Savings & Loanis based in Ellicott City.
Federal regulators must still approve the plan. A decision is expected before summer.
In November, the financial institutions announced Columbia Bank's intention to acquire Fairview Federal, a federalthrift established in 1916, with assets of about $108 million.
The announcement came following two to three months of negotiations, bank officials said.
"It's sort of in mid-stream now," said James Winn Jr., an attorney for The Columbia Bank, of the merger.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve Board and the Officeof Thrift Supervision have yet to give their approval, officials at the local institutions said.
In the meantime, the companies are pleased with the deal.
"We think it's a perfect marriage," said Fairview Federal President and CEO George H. Mantakos. "We expect the transaction will be completed probably by June, if not earlier."
The merger will almost double The Columbia Bank's $102 million in assets,and transform it into the third largest commercial bank in Howard County, officials said.
The Columbia Bank, established in May 1988, will now have access to Fairview Federal's 19,000 to 20,000 accounts,and its four branches, including the popular one on busy Route 40, officials said.
Some of the products in The Columbia Bank's portfolio will compliment Fairview Federal's products and vice versa.
Forexample, unlike The Columbia Bank, Fairview Federal doesn't offer Visa cards, an official at The Columbia Bank said.
Winn said becauseFairview Federal has a strong standing in Howard and Carroll counties, Fairview Federal will be "a decent addition to the market area forColumbia."
The merger fits in nicely with the growth plans of thefairly new company.
"The acquisition just really makes sense," said one official for The Columbia Bank who asked that his name not be used.
Under the merger, Fairview Federal may keep its branch names, officials said.
This acquisition is not the first for The Columbia Bank.
In June 1989, The Columbia Bank purchased a successor to Glen Moore Permanent Building and Loan Association in Towson for approximately $20 million.