First Fidelity Buys Bank For The Rich

Posted: December 02, 1992

First Fidelity Bancorp. moved to pick up another piece of the Philadelphia- area banking market yesterday, announcing it would buy an exclusive private bank in Jenkintown.

First Fidelity, of Newark, N.J., parent of New Jersey's largest bank and Philadelphia's Fidelity Bank and the second-largest holder of deposits in the Philadelphia region, said it had agreed to buy Pitcairn Private Bank, a one- building, $22 million institution that specializes in providing bank services to the wealthy.

First Fidelity also said it would forge a "joint marketing alliance" with the Pitcairn Trust Co., a separate but related organization that also serves affluent customers. Both Pitcairn Trust and Pitcairn Private Bank are owned by descendants of John Pitcairn, founder of PPG Industries.

Under the marketing arrangement, Pitcairn Trust will refer its clients, who generally have at least $2 million available to invest, to Fidelity Bank for banking and trust services formerly provided by Pitcairn Private Bank, according to Hans P. Ziegler, Pitcairn Trust's president.

"We determined that in order to service our . . . clients effectively, we needed a bank that was far stronger than Pitcairn Private Bank," Ziegler said.

First Fidelity said it would pay $100,000 to take over the private bank, on Township Line Road in Jenkintown. That building will become a full-service Fidelity Bank branch, but also will offer special private-banking services, bank officials said.

First Fidelity will not assume the Pitcairn bank's nonperforming assets, the bank said. Those assets, reported to be about $1.5 million as of June 30, largely were acquired in 1990 when Pitcairn Private Bank purchased the Trustees Private Bank, Ziegler said.

In a statement, First Fidelity chairman Anthony P. Terracciano called the deal "a significant step in helping us build our private banking business." Ziegler added that although First Fidelity already had its own private banking department, the Pitcairn transaction would give it access to a more affluent customer base.

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