Thirty-seven bank branches will be closed across Maryland by summer's end in the fallout from two bank mergers.
Household Bank, which is absorbing parts of troubled Baltimore Federal Financial, has closed four Baltimore Federal offices in and near Baltimore. A total of 16 branches are scheduled to be closed by Aug. 13, including the only two branches on the Eastern Shore.
At the same time, MNC Financial Inc., which owns Maryland National Bank and purchased Equitable Bank in January, planned to close 21 branches by today as the merger of the two banks continues.
All remaining branches of Baltimore Federal and Equitable will take the name of their respective owners by the time the closings are completed, spokesmen at the two banking companies said.
Closings had been anticipated at the time the takeovers were announced. Most of the closings announced came in areas where the mergers produced duplicate branches, the spokesmen said.
"There'll be no surprises for customers and no extraordinary activities they need to undertake," said Daniel G. Finney, senior vice president at MNC Financial. Maryland National will continue to accept all checks written on Equitable accounts, he said.
In each case, the banks said they waited until the computer systems were linked between the merged institutions to begin switching over customers. Maryland National said it also would wait until this week to launch its merged retail operations because it is the slowest banking week of the year and the midweek holiday would allow the bank to fix any problems that arose.
Maryland National, which has 147 branches throughout the state, expects to close 11 of its branches. Equitable, whose signs will come down next weekend to be replaced by its new owner's name, has 97 branches, of which 10 are to be closed.
All branches are scheduled to close after the end of business Friday.
Finney said that most employees of branches to be closed would be transferred to a neighboring branch slated to receive the new accounts.
Over the last six months, Maryland National has reduced its work force at its branches by 20 percent, to 2,800 employees, Finney said. Further reductions could come in four or five months after the consolidation has had time to settle, he said.
MNC Financial received formal approval from federal regulators to take over Equitable Bancorp. in a friendly stock swap Jan. 18. MNC Financial, the largest banking institution in the state, has said it expected cost-savings moves to pare $80 million in expenses at the combined company.
Household, which is a unit of Household Bank of Newport Beach, Calif., recently shut three branches in Baltimore and one in Westminster, said John G. Moran, president of Household Bank-Eastern Division.
An additional nine branches, six under the Baltimore Federal name and three Household offices, are scheduled to be shut as the merger of the two thrifts is completed.
After the consolidations, Household will have 26 branches in Maryland.
The Household move is part of the company's strategy to digest and reduce the number of sites that came with the takeover.
Moran said the operations center of Baltimore Federal in downtown Baltimore would be phased out as Household relocates its regional headquarters near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Household bought the insured deposits of Baltimore Federal for $7.3 million in cash after federal regulators, who had taken over the operation of the financially plagued thrift, were unable to find a buyer for the entire institution.