Berkshire Hills Bancorp is the holding company for Berkshire Bank, which serves individuals and small businesses through some 60 branches in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. Established in 1846, the bank provides standard deposit products such as savings, checking, and money market accounts, CDs, and IRAs, in addition to credit cards, investments, private banking, wealth management, and lending services. Real estate mortgages make up nearly three-quarters of Berkshire Hills Bancorp's loan portfolio, which also includes business and consumer loans. In addition to its banking activities, Berkshire Hills also owns insurance agency Berkshire Insurance Group.
Berkshire Bank is transition into a regional bank and is growing its geographic footprint by acquiring other banks. On the heels of its 2011 acquisitions of Rome Bancorp and Legacy Bancorp, Berkshire Hills Bancorp bought The Connecticut Bank and Trust, which gave the company its first eight branches in Connecticut. The previous acquisitions expanded Berkshire's presence in Massachusetts and New York, two target markets in which it has also opened new branches. (However, the company sold four branches from the Legacy deal to NBT Bancorp in order to satisfy antitrust concerns.) Berkshire Hills also is eyeing further expansion into Connecticut and other parts of New England and New York by opening new branches and through acquisitions.
The company, which was established in 1846, believes one of its competitive advantages is the regional niche it serves, which has been relatively unscathed by the recession compared to other parts of the country. The bank's performance has been boosted by an increase in business development in the company's market area, in addition to growth in its asset-based lending and private banking businesses. The bank also has grown its loans and deposits, and has plans to grow its insurance and wealth management operations, as well.
Berkshire reported a more than 20% increase in revenues in 2011 and a 28% jump in net income. The company's 2011 acquisitions for Rome Bancorp and Legacy Bancorp, as well as organic growth, helped boost revenues. Berkshire now plans to buy Beacon Federal Bancorp in a $132 million deal that will add seven branches serving primarily the Syracuse market. – less