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Berkshire Hills Completes First Choice Bank Acquisition

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. has completed the acquisition of First Choice Bank and the merger of First Choice Bank into Berkshire Bank, effective at the close of business on Dec. 2. As a result of this merger, First Choice Loan Services Inc. has become a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Berkshire Bank.

“This combination diversifies our revenue sources, improves our profitability after integration, and complements our other franchise growth initiatives as we expand into attractive banking markets in Central New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania,” said Berkshire Bank CEO Michael Daly. “We’ve been working closely with the First Choice team to prepare for this merger and look forward to completing the systems conversion in February.”

Berkshire issued approximately 4.4 million common shares as merger consideration in the stock-for-stock exchange detailed in the merger agreement. The total stock consideration is valued at approximately $150 million. Additionally, Berkshire paid cash totaling approximately $700,000 million to holders of First Choice options and warrants. Including the new shares issued, Berkshire’s outstanding common stock has increased to approximately 35.5 million shares, resulting in a market capitalization of approximately $1.2 billion.

With this acquisition, Berkshire adds eight bank branches in the areas of Princeton, N.J. and Greater Philadelphia, as well as First Choice Loan Services, a mortgage-banking business originating loans across a national platform. This merger adds approximately $1 billion in assets, will benefit Berkshire’s capital and liquidity metrics, and is book value accretive.

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