Webster Financial Corporation (NYSE: WBS) (“Webster”) and Sterling Bancorp (NYSE: STL) (“Sterling”) jointly announced today that their boards of directors have approved by unanimous vote a definitive agreement under which the two companies will combine in an all-stock merger of equals transaction with a total market value of approximately $10.3 billion.
Under the terms of the agreement, Sterling will merge into Webster, and Sterling’s shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.463 of a Webster share for each share of Sterling stock they own. Following the closing of the transaction, Webster shareholders will own approximately 50.4% of the combined company, and Sterling shareholders will own approximately 49.6%, on a fully diluted basis.
The combined company will retain the Webster name, establish a new corporate headquarters in Stamford, CT, and have a continued multi-campus presence in the greater New York City area and Waterbury, CT.
The pro forma company will be a powerhouse player in the Northeast with highly differentiated businesses in commercial banking, health savings and consumer and digital banking. Enhanced scale will unlock growth and value across each of these business lines.
- Commercial banking unlocks a diversified, multi-billion dollar opportunity to grow regional and national C&I, commercial real estate and Sponsor & Specialty loans through expanding existing relationships and new clients.
- HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank and a top national provider of health savings accounts nationally, will benefit from increased capacity for growth and investment.
- Consumer, small business and direct banking will benefit from local density and increased investment in digital capabilities.
“We are excited to combine the best of both companies to create an industry leader,” said Jack L. Kopnisky, President & CEO of Sterling. “Webster and Sterling have much in common: distinguished client service, diversity of revenue, funding sources and assets, and disciplined capital allocation. The increased capabilities and scale of our two organizations are attractive propositions for our clients, communities, shareholders and colleagues.”
“We are bringing together two high-performing organizations with strong cultural and business model alignment to create a powerhouse Northeast bank,” said John R. Ciulla, Chairman, President & CEO of Webster. “This combination provides exceptional financial benefits and enables us to more aggressively invest in key businesses and activities to enhance value for our customers, our communities, our shareholders and our bankers.”
Strategic Benefits of the Proposed Merger
- Powerhouse Northeast Bank: Combined $63 billion in assets, $52 billion in deposits, and $42 billion in loans provides scale to deliver best-in-class financial performance and drive value for all stakeholders.
- Highly Differentiated Businesses: Webster and Sterling have complementary businesses and strong franchises in commercial, health savings and consumer and digital banking. Relationship- and expertise-based commercial banking and a local presence are enhanced by national reach in both lending and deposit gathering, resulting in sustainable high performance and competitive advantages.
- Significant Loan Growth Potential: The combined company’s Northeast footprint is the most densely populated in the nation. Through diversification and scale, commercial banking will unlock opportunities to grow relationships with existing clients and enhance operating leverage, particularly in commercial lending. Webster and Sterling’s niche national lending platforms contribute further growth, risk-adjusted returns and diversification.
- Best-in-Class Deposit Franchise: Together, Webster and Sterling are strongly positioned with a low-cost, long-duration deposit base. The pro forma company will have 200+ financial centers in the Northeast market. In addition, it will benefit from the ability to more aggressively grow and invest in HSA Bank, a top health savings platform nationally with 12% market share and strong growth characteristics.
Financial Benefits of the Proposed Merger
- Exceptional Profitability: The combined company is projected to generate a ROAA of 1.40% and ROATCE of 17% – among the strongest return profiles nationally.
- Enhanced Revenue Growth Potential: Scale and diversification unlock compelling revenue growth opportunities by expanding selected commercial lending portfolios, aggressively growing HSA Bank, and enhancing digital banking offerings.
- Strong GAAP EPS Accretion to Both Companies’ Shareholders: >20% to Webster, >10% to Sterling, after realizing $120 million of projected cost savings.
- Significant Excess Capital Generation: The combined company is projected to generate $440 million per year, or ~$2.50 per share, of excess capital after organic growth and dividends, available for both capital investments and share repurchases.
Governance and Leadership
Reflecting the equal contribution both partners bring to the combined company, the board and executive management team will draw from both sides:
- Jack L. Kopnisky, President & CEO of Sterling, will serve as Executive Chairman of the combined company for 24 months after closing, and will continue in a consulting capacity for an additional 12 months thereafter.
- John R. Ciulla, Chairman, President & CEO of Webster, will serve as President & CEO of the combined company until 24 months after closing, at which time he will become Chairman, President & CEO.
- The combined company’s executive management team will be comprised of executives from both companies, including Luis Massiani as Chief Operating Officer and Glenn I. MacInnes as Chief Financial Officer.
- The board of directors of the combined company will have 15 directors, consisting of eight directors from Webster and seven directors from Sterling, including Jack L. Kopnisky and John R. Ciulla.
- William L. Atwell, current lead independent director of Webster, will serve as lead independent director for 24 months after closing, after which the Lead Independent Director will be a legacy Sterling director.
Timing and Approvals
The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and approval by the shareholders of each company.
J.P. Morgan Securities, LLC acted as lead financial advisor to Webster and rendered a fairness opinion to its board of directors. Piper Sandler & Co. also rendered a fairness opinion to Webster’s board. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is serving as legal counsel to Webster.
Citigroup Global Markets Inc. acted as lead financial advisor to Sterling and rendered a fairness opinion to its board of directors. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. also rendered a fairness opinion to Sterling’s board. Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP is serving as legal counsel to Sterling.
Joint Conference Call and Webcast Details
Webster and Sterling will conduct a live conference call to discuss the transaction at 8:30 am Eastern Time today. To listen to the live call, please dial 877-407-8289 or 201-689-8341, for international callers. The webcast, along with related slides, will be available on the Webster website (www.wbst.com) and slides will be available on the Sterling website (www.sterlingbancorp.com). A replay of the conference call will be available for one week via the websites listed above, beginning at approximately 11:00 a.m. (Eastern) on April 19, 2021. To access the replay, dial 877-660-6853 or 201-612-7415, for international callers. The replay conference ID number is 13718870.
As a result of today’s merger announcement, both companies have cancelled their previously scheduled 2021 first quarter earnings conference calls.
About Webster Financial Corporation
Webster Financial Corporation is the holding company for Webster Bank, National Association and its HSA Bank division. With $33.3 billion in assets, Webster provides business and consumer banking, mortgage, financial planning, trust, and investment services through 148 banking centers and 280 ATMs. Webster also provides mobile and online banking. Webster Bank owns the asset-based lending firm Webster Business Credit Corporation; the equipment finance firm Webster Capital Finance Corporation; and HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank, which provides health savings account trustee and administrative services. Webster Bank is a member of the FDIC and an equal housing lender. For more information about Webster, including past press releases and the latest annual report, visit the Webster website at www.websterbank.com.
About Sterling Bancorp
Sterling Bancorp, whose principal subsidiary is Sterling National Bank, specializes in the delivery of services and solutions to business owners, their families and consumers within the communities it serves through teams of dedicated and experienced relationship managers. Sterling National Bank offers a complete line of commercial, business, and consumer banking products and services. For more information, visit the Sterling Bancorp website at www.sterlingbancorp.com.