Suffolk Bancorp's downtown Riverhead headquarters. (Photo: Peter Blasl)

While People’s United Financial and Suffolk Bancorp await regulatory approval of the proposed acquisition of the Riverhead bank by People’s United, the two companies continue to work on combining their operations, People’s United president and CEP Jack Barnes said last week.

“The Suffolk integration process is progressing well and we continue to move toward closing the transaction,” Barnes told investors during a conference call Thursday evening conducted by Barnes and other bank officials.

Barnes said the banks do not know when a decision by regulators will be made.

“Regulators do not share expectations around the date of the decision until they make it,” People’s United chief financial officer David Rosato said.

“We continue to move through the application process with our regulators,” Rosato said. “I would say it’s progressed well. We’ve had a number of requests for information which is normal in the process and we’ve been very timely in our response to those questions.”

“We’re very hopeful we’ll be able to close here in the first quarter,” Rosato said. “If you look over the last few years, deals similar to ours have taken seven to nine months and we’re right in that range now,” he added.

People’s United Financial, based in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Suffolk Bancorp announced in June an agreement for the purchase of Suffolk in a 100 percent stock transaction valued at approximately $402 million. At the time, People’s said the transaction was expected to close late in the fourth quarter of 2016. 

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, which has been approved by both companies’ shareholders, Suffolk Bancorp shareholders will receive 2.225 shares of People’s United Financial stock for each Suffolk Bancorp share.

The “integration process” will ultimately result in layoffs of Suffolk County National Bank employees, though the extent and timing of the layoffs is not yet known. In November, Suffolk said 76 employees in its administrative offices in Riverhead would be laid off, beginning in January.

The layoffs were to come during the two-week period beginning Jan. 26, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed with the state labor department on Nov. 1.

It is not yet known whether People’s will close any of Suffolk’s branches — or which ones might be subject to closure. People’s United says the acquisition of Suffolk will give the bank a greater presence in the New York market, particularly on the East End, but there is some overlap among existing branches of the two banking institutions.

“I’m very optimistic we will benefit greatly by the integration,” Barnes said Thursday. “We are already working together as a team on a number of relationships. Things are going very, very well. Our original expectations on what the positives would be have only improved,” he added.

People’s United on Jan. 19 declared a cash dividend of 35.15625 per share, payable March 15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 1, 2017. The bank that day announced its fourth quarter and year-end results. People’s had net income of $281 million, or $0.92 per common share in 2016, compared to $260.1 million, or $0.86 per common share for 2015.

Suffolk Bancorp on Jan. 25 declared a cash dividend of 10 cents per share, payable Feb. 22 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 8. It has not yet reported fourth quarter or year-end results.

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