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Valley National Emerges as Front-Runner for Bank Leumi USA

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(Bloomberg) -- Bank Leumi Le-Israel BM’s U.S. banking arm has drawn interest from potential buyers including Valley National Bancorp, according to people familiar with the matter.

While other suitors are looking at Bank Leumi USA, Valley National has emerged as the front-runner in a sales process for the New York-based lender, said one of the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. A final decision hasn’t been made and Bank Leumi could opt to keep the unit if it doesn’t fetch a good price or it might take it public, one of the people said.

Representatives for Bank Leumi and Valley National declined to comment.

Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s largest lenders, was considering selling its U.S. arm, reviewing options as part of an investment agreement with two minority shareholders in the unit, Bloomberg News reported in May. The unit could fetch about $1 billion in a sale, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Bank Leumi USA had five branches, $7.2 billion in assets and about $6 billion of deposits as of Dec. 31, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Valley National, based in Wayne, New Jersey, agreed in June to buy Westchester Bank Holding Corp. in a deal worth about $210 million.

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