First Bank buying 6 Bank of America branches
Strasburg-based First Bank plans to open new locations this spring, thanks to the purchase of several Bank of America branches.
First Bank’s parent company, First National Corp., announced late last year plans to purchase from Bank of America six branches in Woodstock, Elkton, Staunton, Waynesboro, Dillwyn and Farmville. It expects to complete the transaction, subject to customary closing conditions and approval by regulators, by the second quarter of this year.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to expand our physical presence in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia,” says Scott Harvard, First National Corp.’s president and CEO.
According to Charlottesville-based SNL Financial, Bank of America is at the forefront of the banking industry’s branch reduction trend as more customers switch to online and mobile banking. Five years ago, Bank of America had more than 6,000 branches. Today, it has fewer than 5,000, SNL says.
First Bank hasn’t been a stranger to expansion. Last year it opened a new mortgage division, First Mortgage, in Staunton, as well as a mortgage and loan production office in Harrisonburg. With the new branch offices, First Bank should have 16 retail locations and two mortgage loan production offices by the second quarter.
Acquisition of the Bank of America branches is expected to boost First Bank’s deposits by an estimated $308 million to $827 million.
Harvard did not speculate what changes former Bank of America customers may find once the switch is made beyond the sign on the door, “because, I’m not intimately familiar with how Bank of America is operated in these different communities,” he says. “What I would say is that we are very community oriented and our headquarters [have] been in the Shenandoah Valley for over 100 years, so that’s where our commitment is in these markets where we are growing out from.”
One thing is for certain. First Bank plans to hire all the current employees of the acquired branches and is working to ensure a smooth transition.
“This feels pretty exciting to us right now,” Harvard says. “If we can complete this transaction effectively and do it well then it certainly puts us in a position to continue to be opportunistic.”