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FirstBank Acquisition Of Chase Assets In USVI, BVI Approved

Nod from Puerto Rico Government and FDIC expected; assets of $500 million involved; no financial details provided


August 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The acquisition by FirstBank of Puerto Rico of the assets of JPMorganChase in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has been approved by the USVI regulatory authorities, announced USVI Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II, who is also the territory Banking Commissioner, and confirmed by a JPMorganChase spokesperson.

The transaction involves seven Chase branches in the USVI, one in Tortola (BVI); Chase Agency Services, an insurance company in St. Thomas; and Chase Trade Inc., a Foreign Sales Corp. management company in St. Thomas and in Barbados. Chase has four branches in St. Thomas, two on St. Croix and one in St. John.

The spokesperson for JPMorganChase in New York said the sale is expected to be closed within the next few months. Figures for the purchase of the Chase assets were not available. Chase in the USVI has assets of more than $500 million and employs 280 persons.

Following the approval of the deal by the USVI government, similar action by the Puerto Rico Commissioner of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is expected.

The divestiture of its USVI assets by Chase has been going on for several years. Negotiations by Virgin Islands Community Bank (VICB) to acquire them broke down earlier this year after more than two years. Although at one point Chase and VICB were suing each other, they amicably resolved their differences and mutually declared the deal dead.

When the deal is implemented, FirstBank will go toe-to-toe with Banco Popular de Puerto Rico in the USVI. The second largest locally owned commercial bank in Puerto Rico, FirstBank has assets of more than $7 billion, 1,700 employees, 45 branches in Puerto Rico and four in the USVI--three in St. Thomas and one on St. Croix.

Its acquisition of the Chase branches further consolidates its position in the USVI following its1999 acquisition of a Citbank branch in St. Thomas and the 2000 acqusition of the branches of the First Virgin Islands Federal Savings Bank.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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