News Column

Old Second Bancorp plans to close some of its 28 branches

June 5, 2014

By Becky Yerak, Chicago Tribune



June 05--Old Second Bancorp Inc. of Aurora is considering closing some of its 28 branches to save money. Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial Corp. is looking to Wisconsin for growth. And Chicago'sPrivateBancorp Inc. is willing to compete on price to keep its loan pipeline full.

Those were among the developments that New York bank analyst Christopher McGratty saw and heard on his most recent annual field trip to Chicago to meet with management of publicly traded mid-sized banks.

Old Second, which has assets of $2 billion, made money in 2013 for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. McGratty, of Keefe Bruyette Woods, wrote in a 12-page recap that Old Second is "focused on profitable loan growth" and boasts a loyal base of depositors, but "management highlighted cost-save opportunities," including the "possibility of future branch closures."

Old Second's biggest footprint is in Kane and Kendall counties.

"Our branching strategy and performance is always being evaluated," Bob Valaitis, Old Second executive vice president of marketing, told the Tribune on Thursday.

At $18.2 billion-asset Wintrust, McGratty sees strong growth in business loans as well as a continued open mind about mergers and acquisitions.

"Known for having an active M&A dialogue, the comment that stuck with us was that they are having as many conversations today with potential Wisconsin targets as they are with possible Chicago targets," McGratty said in his report, published Wednesday.

Wintrust Chief Executive Ed Wehmer told the Tribune on Thursday that Wisconsin is a great market for his bank.

"With tongue in cheek, I have said that this is a hedge for us," Wehmer said of Wisconsin. "If Illinois doesn't get its act together, we need to be able to capture all the refugees" moving to Wisconsin from Illinois.

McGratty also visited Chicago-area operations of Associated Banc-Corp, First Midwest Bancorp Inc., MB Financial Inc., TCF Financial Corp. and PrivateBancorp. McGratty said he's most enthusiastic about PrivateBancorp, citing sustained loan growth at the $14.3 billion-asset institution.

byerak@tribune.com

Follow @beckyyerak Follow @chibreakingbiz

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Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)