Nicolet Bank acquires Charter Bank and expands to Eau Claire and Minnesota

GREEN BAY – National Bank of Nicolet would expand into western Wisconsin and suburban Twin Cities by acquiring an Eau Claire-based bank in a deal announced Wednesday morning.

Nicolet Bankshares Inc., the parent company of the Green Bay bank, will purchase Charter Bankshares Inc., the parent company of Chartered bankin a 75% stock, 25% cash deal worth $158 million.

The purchase would add four branches to the Nicolet network, two in the Chippewa Valley and two in the southwest suburbs of the Twin Cities. Charter recently purchased land for a fifth branch, in Chippewa Falls, and Nicolet will move forward with those plans.

Mike Daniels, president and CEO of Nicolet National Bank, said expansion into the Chippewa Valley region is the primary reason for buying Charter, not expansion into Minnesota.

He said the addition of Charter locations and staff will allow Nicolet to offer a full range of banking services in the growing Eau Claire region. The company’s only presence in Eau Claire is now an agricultural loan office acquired in December when Nicolet bought Manitowoc-based Investors Community Bank.

“It provides an additional opportunity, but that’s not the reason for the deal,” Daniels said of the Minnesota branches. the customers and the community and each other are there.

Charter Bank President and CEO Paul Kohler will join Nicolet after the acquisition as a senior manager for Nicolet’s new properties in western Wisconsin and Twin Cities. Brenda L. Johnson, president of Charter Bankshares Inc., will join the boards of Nicolet National Bank and its holding company if the transaction closes following regulatory reviews. The boards of both companies have approved the acquisition and expect to complete the transaction in the fall.

Charter Bank was founded in 1980 in Eau Claire. The private bank remained focused on this market for 35 years before expanding through acquisitions and new branches from 2015.

Kohler said Charter chose Nicolet as the buyer because of its focus on the customers and communities it serves, “except (it’s) seven times larger” than Charter based on total assets.

Being part of Nicolet will allow Charter branches to expand commercial lending, add customer services and preserve the bank’s support for nonprofits in the Eau Claire area, he said. declared.

“The good thing about the combination between us and Nicolet is that we will always be community focused. We will still be able to help Little League teams and hockey teams as well as art shows and music festivals. Maybe more because of our size,” Kohler said. “We still want to continue that, but it will give us more resources for that while still being that local, community bank.”

The purchase agreement provides that Charter shareholders will receive 1.26 million shares of Nicolet and $38.8 million in cash. Based on Nicolet’s Tuesday closing price of $94.40, the trade is worth $158 million.

Charter branches in the Twin Cities suburbs of Chaska and Chanhassen, Minnesota, would give Nicolet a presence in a third state, following its acquisition of Michigan-based mBank in September. The suburb is southwest of Minneapolis and Chahassen is home to Paisley Park, Prince’s famous home and recording studio.

Charter Bank would be the seventh bank Nicolet National Bank has purchased since 2015, when Nicolet acquired Baylake Bank to expand into Door and Kewaunee counties.

Jason Bougie of Elevate97 hangs a sign on the corner of the new Nicolet National Bank branch on the ground floor of the Gabriel Lofts building at 201 E. College Ave., pictured Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Appleton, Wis.

It then acquired FNB-Fox Valley in April 2017, expanding its market share in Fox Valley and Oshkosh. It again targeted growth in Oshkosh in June 2019 when it acquired Choice Bank. In March 2020, it turned to central Wisconsin with the acquisition of Advantage Community Bank and its branches in Dorchester, Wausau, Mosinee and Edgar.

The acquisition of Charter Bank would add another $1.1 billion of assets to Nicolet’s balance sheet. If approved, the combined bank would have assets of $8.8 billion in assets, $7.3 billion in deposits and $5.4 billion in loans.

Contact Jeff Bollier at (920) 431-8387 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffBollier.

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