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BOYERTOWN, PA-National Penn Bancshares Inc., the parent of National Penn Bank, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Greenville, DE-based Christiana Bank & Trust Co. in a transaction valued at $56.5 million. It will mark National Penn’s first foray into Delaware, which Glenn Moyer, president and CEO of National Penn, described as “attractive,” citing that state’s “favorable tax and legal environment for businesses and individuals,” during a conference call.

Christiana operates just two branches, one in Greenville and the other in Wilmington. They will continue to operate under the Christiana name, and Zissimos Frangopoulos, its current president and CEO, and Thomas Campbell, EVP of trusts, will retain their posts. This is consistent with previous National Penn acquisitions.

The locally based financial company now operates 81 branches under five divisions: FirstService Bank, Home Towne Heritage Bank, Nittany Bank, the People’s Bank of Oxford in addition to National Penn Bank. Of the total, 80 are in Pennsylvania and one is in Maryland.

While National Penn does view the acquisition as an opportunity to add retail units in Delaware, Moyer said, it also gives the buyer strength in trusts management and private banking. While Christiana has just $166 million in assets, it has $2.8 billion in trust assets under administration, primarily because of what Moyer called “the Delaware advantage.” National Penn has approximately $5.2 billion in assets.

Moyer said the acquisition “adds another business with strong growth characteristics to our franchise. It contributes to our longstanding efforts at diversifying our revenue base.” The agreement calls for a payment of 80% in National Penn stock and 20% cash. It is expected to close in early 2008.

National Penn’s stock, which trades as NPBC on the Nasdaq, opened at $16.91 a share on June 27, the day following the announcement. That represents a 52-week low and compares with a 52-week high of $21.17 a share. Christiana trades over the counter as CBTD, and, following the announcement it was trading at $35.40 a share, compared with a 52-week high of $36.50 a share and a 52-week low of $21.43 a share. The National Penn offer values CBTD at $37.85 a share.

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