New Jersey-based Columbia Financial has agreed to buy local peer Stewardship Financial in a deal worth around $137m.

Under the agreement, Stewardship subsidiary Atlantic Stewardship Bank will merge into Columbia subsidiary Columbia Bank.

Atlantic Stewardship Bank has 12 branches in northern New Jersey. Its parent Stewardship managed $961m in assets at the end of March 2019.

Columbia has 50 branches and oversaw assets of $6.7bn at the end of March 2019.

As per the agreed terms of the merger deal, each Stewardship share will fetch $15.75 in cash.

The deal, slated to complete in the final quarter of this year, already secured the go-ahead from the two companies’ boards.

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It is now pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

As part of the deal, Stewardship president and CEO Paul Van Ostenbridge will gain seat on the Columbia board.

Columbia expects the acquisition to add to its 2020 earnings per share by nearly 16.2%, excluding one-time costs.

Columbia president and CEO Thomas Kemly said: “Our companies share common values with a strong culture focused on relationships and serving our communities, making this combination a perfect partnership.

“We greatly admire the philanthropic support Stewardship provides through its tithing programme and the Columbia Bank Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in New Jersey, is proud to continue various aspects of Stewardship’s charitable mission.

“We believe the merger represents a significant step towards profitably deploying capital we raised in our public offering and is a great fit with our growth plan.”