Berkshire Hills Bancorp to start selling public stock options next month

Monday October 29, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Buoyed by its 10th consecutive quarter of increased operating earnings, Berkshire Hills Bancorp will list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange beginning next month.

Berkshire Bank’s holding company expects to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange by Nov. 19, according to a statement released by the bank. The company’s stock will continue to be listed on the NASDAQ Global Market until the transfer has been completed.

The bank will also retain the ticker symbol "BHLB" after the transfer occurs. The transfer of stock from one exchange to another will have no impact on the bank’s stockholders.

"It will be seamless as far as the shareholders go," said Berkshire Bank’s Investor Relations Officer David Gonci. "It has no direct impact on them."

The announcement came on the same day that Berkshire Hills Bancorp released its third quarter earnings, which saw core earnings per share increase by 11 percent from the second quarter, and by 21 percent over the same time period last year.

Berkshire Bank went public in 2000, and has been listed on the NASDAQ exchange since 2005. The New York Stock Exchange is the oldest and largest stock exchange in the United States. Gonci characterized the company’s decision to upgrade to the NYSE as a strategic move that will provide its stock with long-term benefits.

"This is something that we have given consideration to in recent times," Gonci said. "About 80 percent of banks in terms of total value trade on the New York Stock Exchange. So it’s a more active exchange for bank stocks. We felt that now is a good time to list there, and our stock may have more visibility as a result of that."

"We are thrilled to welcome Berkshire Hills Bancorp to the New York Stock Exchange where the company joins the ranks of other successful institutions in America and the world," said Scott Cutler, executive vice president and head of Global Listing for NYSE Euronext in a statement.

"The NYSE is the world’s leading exchange brand and provide Berkshire Hills Ban corp with a platform for unsur passed market quality, liquidity, innovation and visibility," Cutler said.

Berkshire Bank has grown substantially over the last two years, purchasing Legacy Banks, and adding companies that expanded the financial institution’s footprint into the Syracuse, N.Y. area and into north central Conn ecticut. It currently has $5.5 billion in assets.

According to President and CEO Michael P. Daly, Berkshire has grown to over 25 million common shares outstanding and has a market capitalization of over $550 million.

Gonci said the decision to list the bank’s stock on the NYSE recognizes that growth.

"Banks that trade on the New York Stock Exchange tend to be more profitable, and so do banks that have grown over the years," he said. "We felt that we fit that profile and that it would be something worth celebrating."

In celebration of the transfer, Berkshire Hills Bancorp representatives will ring the New York Stock Exchange’s opening bell on Nov. 29.

During the third quarter, Berkshire Hill Bancorp reported 52 cents in earnings per share, up from 43 cents per share during the third quarter of 2011.

Through the first nine months of 2012, Berkshire Hills has reported earnings of $1.43 per share, a 30 percent increase from last year’s nine month total of $1.10 per share.

"It’s a result of our organic growth and expansion as well as our business acquisitions and increased profitability," Gonci said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
(413) 496-6224


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