First Niagara Financial Group Inc.'s $1.15 billion takeover of NewAlliance Bancshares Inc. catapulted the regional bank to the 38th largest bank in the second quarter.
It marked the biggest move on research firm SNL Financial's list of the 50 biggest U.S. banks and thrifts by assets released Tuesday. The rest of the rankings looked eerily similar to the previous quarter, with the Top 11 a carbon copy of the first quarter.
Banking heavyweights Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. led the list at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Both also earned the distinction of being the only banks with more than $2 trillion in assets.
Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. followed in third and fourth places.
Commerce Bancshares Inc., based in Kansas City, Mo., moved back on the list after missing the cut the past two quarters. It supplanted San Juan, Puerto Rico-based First BanCorp., which is working to raise capital and shed risk from its portfolio as part of a June agreement with regulators.
First Niagara Financial, based in Buffalo, N.Y., ranked No. 46 in the first quarter. Its acquisition of New Haven, Conn., NewAlliance will increase its balance sheet by 42 percent, SNL Financial noted.
The combination also allows the regional bank to expand its presence into Connecticut and Massachusetts. Currently, it serves upstate New York and western and eastern Pennsylvania. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of next year.
Mergers and acquisitions have been relatively quiet in the banking industry recently. That follows a volatile period in late 2008 into early 2009 during the financial crisis that prompted mammoth takeovers of struggling banks and a slew of bank failures. Such giants as Washington Mutual and Wachovia disappeared from the landscape.
"There is still some activity, but it's among the smaller banks that wouldn't affect the Top 50," said Christine Barry, research director at Aite Group.
In the second quarter, the U.S. banking industry recorded its highest quarterly earnings in nearly three years, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said.
But the number of troubled institutions grew by more than 50, and total lending by the banks declined by $107.5 billion or 1.4 percent from the previous quarter.
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