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Bank bidding war may be down to two; Berkshire Hills won't up CNB offer.

Byline: Aaron Nicodemus

WORCESTER - Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc., the parent of Berkshire Bank, announced yesterday that it would not increase its offer of about $21 million to purchase CNB Financial Corp. of Worcester.

CNB Financial, parent company of Commonwealth National Bank, has received three merger offers.

Charles R. Valade, president and chief executive officer of Commonwealth National Bank, said the other two offers are superior to that of Berkshire Hills.

United Financial Bancorp Inc. of West Springfield, parent of United Bank, had offered to buy CNB for $10.25 per share in cash and stock, a purchase offer totaling about $23.4 million.

The third bidder has not been identified.

"We're pursuing our normal due diligence on United and the other offer," said Mr. Valade.

CNB continues to examine the two offers despite a public pronouncement May 21 that it had reached an agreement with Berkshire Hills.

"While we view the Worcester market as a natural extension of our current footprint and we remain interested in that market, we will not price a merger or acquisition that does not deliver acceptable returns to Berkshire stockholders," said Michael P. Daly, Berkshire Hills president and chief executive officer.

He said in yesterday's announcement that he believes the Berkshire Hills offer is "the superior offer."

Although United Financial's offer officially ended yesterday, that does not necessarily mean the bank is abandoning its effort to acquire CNB.

Officials from United Financial did not return a call yesterday.
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Title Annotation:MONEY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 2, 2009
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