Lakeland Bank to acquire 1st constitution, become fifth-largest bank headquartered in N.J.

Shara to remain CEO; merger will help Lakeland increase its presence in Central Jersey

Lakeland Bank will acquire 1st Constitution Bank, a merger that will create the fifth-biggest bank headquartered in New Jersey, the banks announced Monday morning.

The combined organization will have approximately $9.6 billion in assets and will maintain the Lakeland Bank name, the boards of directors of both banks said.

Thomas Shara, CEO of Lakeland Bank, will maintain his role as CEO. Lakeland will continue to be headquartered in Oak Ridge.

Robert Mangano, the CEO of 1st Constitution, will be appointed to the board of directors.

Shara said the acquisition is a key to Lakeland’s plans to expand geographically in the state as it will provide Lakeland with entry into Mercer, Middlesex and Monmouth counties and expand its presence in Ocean and Bergen counties.

“We are delighted to be combining with 1st Constitution and expanding Lakeland’s presence into central New Jersey,” he said. “This business combination provides attractive financial attributes to shareholders of both Lakeland and 1st Constitution. 

“This merger is consistent with our recent initiatives to expand into desirable markets. We look forward to working with 1st Constitution in delivering a broad array of business and consumer products into our expanded marketplace.”

The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021 or early first quarter 2022, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and approval by the shareholders of Lakeland and 1st Constitution.

Under the terms of the deal, Lakeland will acquire all of the outstanding shares of 1st Constitution in exchange for common shares of Lakeland and will cash out outstanding 1st Constitution options.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

Lakeland currently has $7.8 billion in assets; 1st Constitution (headquartered in Cranbury) has $1.8 billion.

Mangano said 1st Constitution is pleased with the agreement.

“We are excited to be partnering with such a respected and well-managed institution,” he said. “This merger will bring together two outstanding organizations with similar cultures as well as strong relationships in New Jersey.”