FNB shut branches in 2012, shifting growth for 2013

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FNB Corp., which acquired Monroeville-based Parkvale Financial last January, closed 17 of Parkvale's 40 branch offices, plus an additional 20 branches across FNB's network last year in a cost-cutting move, CEO Vincent Delie Jr. said Thursday.

The retrenchment placed the Mercer County-based bank among the top five nationwide for branch closings in the fourth quarter, along with Bank of America, Capital One, Bank of Montreal and BB&T, according to a recent analysis by SNL Financial, a Charlottesville, Va., research firm.

Mr. Delie, speaking to analysts in a conference call Thursday following the bank's late Wednesday year-end earnings release, did not say whether FNB would shutter any more branches this year. But he said the bank's delivery structure would continue to evolve, noting that 35,000 customers had begun using mobile banking since the service was launched in June.

FNB also opened six branches last year in more desirable markets, he said.

Mr. Delie told analysts that the bank would continue to look for opportunities to expand through acquisitions.

The takeover of Parkvale, one of the largest acquisitions FNB has made, vaulted FNB to the Pittsburgh region's third biggest retail bank behind PNC and Citizens, up from No. 7.

Since then, the bank announced it would expand into Maryland with the takeover of Annapolis Bancorp, including eight BankAnnapolis offices.

Although that deal isn't set to close until April, Mr. Delie said FNB could still do another acquisition this year at the right price.

"If you look at our history, we've been able to integrate at least two deals in one year," he said. The Annapolis acquisition was relatively small, he said, "So I would not expect it to inhibit us from pursuing other opportunities."

FNB's recent growth spurt also has had at least one major downside. Because the institution's assets have surpassed the $10 billion mark, starting July 1 FNB will be subject to regulatory caps on how much it can charge merchants for using debit cards.

The bank has taken a number of steps to offset the unspecified loss in swipe fee revenue, including cost cuts and "changes in both product structure and pricing," Chief Financial Officer Vincent Calabrese Jr. said.

After the market closed Wednesday, FNB reported double-digit gains in profits for the fourth quarter and full year.

Shares closed Thursday at $11.45, up 0.7 percent.


Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.


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