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Rockland Trust strikes $54m deal for bank

Will expand footprint north, west of Boston

Rockland Trust, the largest community bank based south of Boston, is accelerating its expansion north and west of Boston.

The parent of Rockland Trust Co., Independent Bank Corp. of Rockland, announced Tuesday that it would buy the parent of Central Bank in Somerville, Central Bancorp, for $54.8 million, more than tripling its presence in Middlesex County.

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The deal, expected to close by the end of the year, will give Rockland Trust nine additional branches in Middlesex County in addition to the four it already has. Rockland Trust has 67 branches, mostly south of Boston. Central Bank has nine locations in Somerville, Arlington, Burlington, Brookline, Malden, Medford, Melrose, and Woburn.

Rockland Trust chief executive Christopher Oddleifson said the bank will likely eliminate some jobs as a result of the merger, particularly executive and administration functions, but wasn’t sure exactly how many. Rockland Trust has nearly 1,000 employees and Central Bank has 130.

In the long term, Oddleifson said, the bank will look for opportunities to continue to expand, including additional acquisitions and potential new branches in Boston, Quincy, and north of Boston - perhaps into southern New Hampshire.

The bank is currently the sixth largest in Massachusetts and the second-largest community bank based in the state by deposits and branches, trailing only Eastern Bank of Boston.

“There’s room for a bank of our size,’’ Oddleifson.

Other than the Central Bank offices, Oddleifson said the bank will probably not add new branches this year. And he said it’s difficult to predict when it may be able to strike additional acquisitions.

Todd Wallack can be reached at twallack@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @twallack.
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