Union Bank gets regulatory green light for $610M deal

Union’s headquarters is in James Center in downtown Richmond. (Bizsense file photo)

Richmond’s biggest bank last week cleared a hurdle on its path toward acquiring a Northern Virginia peer.

Union Bank & Trust has received approval from state and federal regulators for its pending deal to acquire Access National Bancorp.

The all-stock deal, valued at $610 million, would bring the Access National Bank and Middleburg Bank franchises and their $3 billion in assets into the Union fold. The combined companies would have $16 billion in total assets and more than 150 locations across the state.

The deal also gives Union, which will remain headquartered downtown in the James Center, its first significant piece of the Northern Virginia market and further solidify its position as the largest regional bank based in the state.

The Access deal is Union’s third acquisition in five years. The first was when it grabbed Christiansburg-based StellarOne Bank, giving it a greater presence in the western part of the state and putting it at about $7 billion in assets.

Then last year, Union completed its acquisition of Xenith Bank, a Richmond peer that gave Union its desired foothold in Hampton Roads and the beginnings of a presence in Northern Virginia.

The Access deal still needs a vote of approval from both banks’ shareholders, which is expected to take place Jan. 15.

Union acquired Xenith in a $700 million all-stock deal last year. (BizSense file photo)

The deal has been met with scrutiny from at least two Access National shareholders, who filed class-action lawsuits in December in federal court seeking, among other things, to block the deal.

But the plaintiffs promptly voluntarily withdrew the lawsuits last week. Their allegations follow a trend in the M&A world by which shareholders and packs of class-action law firms target mergers and acquisitions, and file similarly worded lawsuits shortly after the deals are announced.

Such cases often end with little consequence, either being dismissed or settled after the parties agree to tweak certain disclosures in SEC filings. Executives of companies see them as little more than the white-collar equivalent of ambulance chasers.

One of the two suits against the Access-Union deal was filed by plaintiff Paul Parshall, who filed a similar suit in the wake of the announcement of the Union-Xenith deal in 2017. Parshall is listed in federal court records as the plaintiff on dozens of similar cases.

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