East Boston Savings agrees to acquire Meetinghouse Bank

Two of Dorchester’s most trusted and important community banks will merge under an acquisition deal announced on Monday afternoon. The parent company of East Boston Savings Bank has agreed to acquire Meetinghouse Bank – with locations in Lower Mills and Roslindale – in a transaction that will likely happen later this year after a standard review by state regulators.

The deal, already approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both companies, will yield more $17.8 million for Meetinghouse shareholders, according to a press release issued by the two banks this week.

Meridian, the holding company that owns East Boston Savings Bank, noted that adding the two Meetinghouse locations will bring the number of branches added to its network since the end of 2011 to ten. 

“It’s a very vibrant, growing market,” said Richard J. Gavegnano, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Meridian.

“Meetinghouse is strategically within that Dorchester location and Ros just added to our presence in the city. We want to be a Boston bank.”

The Lower Mills location is particularly attractive to Gavegnano, who said it will likely become one of the top three branches in the East Boston Savings Bank system in Dorchester.

The transaction will bring a strong return for Meetinghouse investors.

“At $26 per share, the merger with Meridian will provide our shareholders with a significant premium to our market price,” said Anthony A. Paciulli, President and Chief Executive Officer of Meetinghouse. “We are very pleased to undertake a transaction that we believe serves the best interests of all of our constituents.”

Paciulli has led Meetinghouse for 11 years and is credited with building its Lower Mills branch into one of the busiest – by volume – in the neighborhood. Paciulli also led the expansion of the Meetinghouse brand into Roslindale, opening a branch near the neighborhood’s busy square in 2012. Founded in 1914, Meetinghouse Bank has approximately $118 million in assets, $80 million in loans, and $99 million in deposits as of March 31, according to the statement. 

Paciulli intends to stay on in an interim role to assist in the transition and will remain active in several civic causes, including the Cedar Grove Cemetery board and the Lower Mills Merchants Association, which he founded.

The acquisition will make East Boston Savings Bank the dominant community banking and lending force in Dorchester.

“The bank was run beautifully under Tony [Paciulli’s] leadership,” said Gavegnano. “If they had to find another partner that culturally was very compatible, East Boston Savings Bank is a very strong, rooted community bank, serving family neighborhoods and the way we service our customers –that’s what has made this so smooth. We had the same respect for neighborhoods and involvement with charitable donations.”

Gavegnano added, “We look forward to working with Meetinghouse’s employees to offer Meetinghouse Bank customers an expanded range of valued banking products and trusted, safe and friendly service.

Paciulli noted that East Boston has committed to work with members of Meetinghouse management and the East Boston Charitable Foundation to identify recipients of an aggregate of $100,000 in chartable grants to be made over a two-year period to the markets served by Meetinghouse Bank.”