Columbia Bank to acquire Freehold Bank through merger agreement

The parent of Columbia Bank has signed a merger agreement to acquire Freehold Bank, it announced this week.

Columbia Bank MHC, the mutual holding company that owns Columbia Financial Inc., signed the definitive agreement with Freehold MHC, parent of Freehold Bancorp, according to a news release. The deal would see Freehold merge into Columbia, converting to a federal savings bank and operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Freehold Bank has its main office and sole branch in Freehold, where it has operated for more than 167 years. Columbia Bank is based in Fair Lawn.

“We are pleased with the opportunity to welcome Freehold Bank and its employees and customers to Columbia Bank,” Columbia CEO and President Thomas J. Kemly said in a prepared statement. “The transaction will broaden our footprint into Monmouth County. As two community-minded banks, we are proud to strengthen our local impact and support new markets.”

Columbia has offered full employment to all Freehold employees and will add a member of its board of directors to the Columbia board following the merger.

“We are excited to join with Columbia Bank, a leading New Jersey-based bank with shared culture and values,” Freehold CEO and President James H. Wainwright said in a statement. “The merger will provide an opportunity for our customers to join a larger banking network, with expanded products and services, while employees will benefit from the opportunity to work for a rapidly-growing community bank. The support of the Columbia Bank Foundation will serve as an asset to our local community and charitable organizations.”

The transaction is subject to customary approvals and conditions, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter. The complete merger of the banks is expected to occur two years after the holding company merger.

Columbia was advised by Boenning & Scattergood Inc. and represented by Kilpatrick Towsend & Stockton LLP. Freehold was advised by FinPro Capital Advisors Inc. and represented by Stevens & Lee P.C.