Updated July 28 at 5:55pm

Rockland Trust eyeing expansion

By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer

For Rockland Trust Co. President and CEO Christopher Oddleifson, these are the best of times. The bank has done extremely well lately, and he expects Rockland’s size will double over the next five to seven years to approach $10 billion in assets, including an increase in its loan portfolio in the Ocean State. The bank currently has $5.1 billion in assets.

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FOCUS: BANKING & FINANCE

Rockland Trust eyeing expansion

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For Rockland Trust Co. President and CEO Christopher Oddleifson, these are the best of times. The bank has done extremely well lately, and he expects Rockland’s size will double over the next five to seven years to approach $10 billion in assets, including an increase in its loan portfolio in the Ocean State. The bank currently has $5.1 billion in assets.

“There are bank regulations that kick in when you hit $10 billion, making it tough to go from $9.5 billion to $10.5 billion. Our vision is to increase the size of the bank to just under $10 billion,” he said.

Oddleifson credits the bank’s growth to its customer-service approach. “It’s the personal touch, the personal knowledge, it’s the relationship,” he said. “It comes back to the people and how you treat them.”

And while Rockland Trust has seen organic growth thanks to its approach to customers, it has not been shy to buy market share as well. “When we have the opportunity, we like to buy other banks, but that comes along only once in a great while,” Oddleifson said.

To help that strategy along, on Aug. 21, Independent Bank Corp., the Rockland, Mass.-based parent company of Rockland Trust, filed a shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission asking to sell up to $125 million in common and preferred stock, depositary shares, warrants and other securities and contracts. The filing means the bank has two years to sell the shares. The proceeds, the bank explained, would be for general corporate purposes – cash in hand, so to speak.

“We have no plans to raise capital, but should an acquisition opportunity come,” he said. For example, in May the bank agreed to buy Central Bancorp in Somerville, Mass., for $54.8 million in cash and stock (Central Bank operates nine full-service offices and had $522.9 million in assets at the end of March.). In 2009, Rockland Trust bought Benjamin Franklin Bank for about $125 million, adding 11 branches and expanding west of Boston.

“They have definitely been moving the bank forwards over the last couple of years,” said Damon Delmonte, senior vice president of equity research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. of Boston. He follows the bank on a regular basis. “They are doing all of the right things. They’ve really been able to capitalize on market disruption by way of taking market share from other, bigger players.” He also noted a marked growth in commercial loans.

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