Coordinator funds

It could be a big year for bank mergers. Here are some names to watch out for.

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Even banks that are not part of the merger bonanza can expect to see the positive effects of a wave of consolidation.

The time of dreams

After a relatively dormant 2020, Wall Street expects a wave of bank mergers this year.

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has dampened much of the merger activity expected for 2020, even though it has served to intensify the reasons why banks should combine. Last year, amid concerns over low interest rates and the potential increase in loan losses, banks were busy solving their own problems and less interested in acquiring banks that could create their own set of problems. But with many of the worst-case scenarios for the economy thankfully averted, banks are emerging from the crisis under renewed pressure to become more efficient.

End of 2019, following the announced merger between


and SunTrust to create

Truist Financial

(ticker: TFC), many expected a wave of mergers to follow soon. Interest rates were low by historical standards and the industry faced competition from fintech players like

PayPal funds

(PYPL) and


(SQ). Now, in 2021, interest rates are even lower and banks have had to rethink their digital game amid lockdowns spurred by the pandemic.

“There was a need for bank consolidation before COVID and this need has was only amplified in today’s new environmentBrady Gailey, Managing Director of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, wrote in a note on Wednesday. He added that the consolidation will also help banks improve yields and offset weak organic loan growth.

To determine which banks would be potential buyers and which could be sellers, KBW often assesses banks based on their price against their tangible book value. Banks with a higher P / TBV can use their higher valuation to buy a lower target P / TBV. The bank identified 53 potential acquirers in its coverage universe of 223 banks and found that the median P / TBV was 1.8 times and banks were trading at 14.1 times expected earnings in 2022.

Among the top-rated names for potential buyers were

Bancshares Prosperity


Ameris Bancorp


Pacific Premier Bancorp


United community banks


Independent banking group


Premier BancSystem Interstate


First Busey


Veritex Holdings


Independent bank

(INDB), and

First Bancshares


Banks that could be potential targets had a median P / TBV of 1.2 times and were trading at 13.5 times the protected earnings of 2022. Among potential sellers, KBW rates

Cadence Bancorporation



(CBTX), and

Western Financial Premier

(MYFW) Outperform.

The wider the P / TBV gap between potential acquirers and potential targets, the more optimistic the outlook for mergers and acquisitions, Gailey wrote.

KBW also expects there to be peer-to-peer mergers, with an outperformance rating

Synovus Financial

(SNV), Ameris, United Community,

Independent banking group

Home Bancshares


Sandy Spring Bancorp

(SASR) and First Busey being potential candidates.

But even banks that aren’t part of the merger windfall can expect to see the positive effects of a wave of consolidation. “We also generally believe that higher levels of bank mergers and acquisitions will act as a positive catalyst for the group, which could push up the valuations of the group,” Gailey wrote.


KBW banking index

was down 0.6% in recent trade, while the

S&P 500

was up 0.2%.

Write to Carleton English at [email protected]