A Tale of Two Massachusetts Bank Mergers: North Easton Savings Bank and Avidia Bank

Two banks in Massachusetts—North Easton Savings Bank and Mutual Bank—have recently announced that they will be merging in early 2019.

The two banks both maintain 9 locations in different Massachusetts communities. This merger will allow the banks to combine their resources and expand their services. The banks have announced their commitment towards maintaining a culture of growth and success and have dedicated a website, www.meetyourbetterbank.com, to support clients.

Bank mergers can be complicated and often affect thousands of clients as well as employees.

This was the case when another two Massachusetts banks—Westborough Bank and Hudson Savings Bank—merged in 2007. When their merger was announced in November 2006, the deal seemed straightforward. Hudson parent company Assabet Valley Bancorp would pay $35 per share for Westborough Financial Services Inc. (the mutual holding company for The Westborough Bank), for a total of $20.6 million. The deal eventually went through, and the two banks merged to become Avidia Bank.

But, surprisingly, this deal involved intense negotiations, and did not go to the highest bidder. An offer of $38.50 per share from an unidentified individual was rejected by the bank’s shareholders. Another offer, of $40 per share by Marc Bistricer’s Murchinson, was also turned down.

As these Massachusetts banks demonstrate, bank mergers are complex deals that carry implications for bank personnel, investors, and customers.

Diamond Giant Alrosa Names Female Head

Rare twinned diamond crystal. Photo courtesy Robert M. Lavinsky

The world’s leading producer by output of diamonds, Alrosa, appointed Rebecca Foerster to lead its USA division.

The move comes the reopening of its offices in New York last year, together with expanding sales in the US. The company chose an experienced female executive to lead its American operations; Foerster is former Vice President of Strategic planning and marketing at Leo Schachter Diamonds, a position she held for four years.

She has previous experience as Vice President at the US Representative office of Rio Tinto; executive roles at Frederick Goldman Inc, Revlon, Unilever, and Benckiser.

“The United States is the world’s largest market for diamond jewelry consumption. For this reason, special requirements are placed on the person who will represent Alrosa’s interests there. Foerster has a wealth of experience in companies that represent almost all parts of the diamond pipeline, from diamond mining to diamond jewelry sales. She knows the specifics of the diamond business and is well aware of American market needs,” said Deputy CEO of Alrosa, Yury Okoemov.

In 2016 Alrosa closed its New York office for “organizational reasons.” Since the office reopened in 2018 business has been expanding at a pace to the extent that from the two rough diamond auctions held last year in New York the company will have four such events in 2019. Alrosa, which mines diamonds, plans to also offer polished diamonds to the US market this coming year.

Japan Tagging on Tourist Tax to All Departing Persons

Japan

As of January 7, 2019, all those leaving Japan will be required to cough up an additional 1,000 yen (US$9). The money will be collected to improve tourism infrastructure in the country.


The levy, known as the International Tourist Tax, will be obligatory and all nationalities, regardless of the reason they are leaving the Japan. Tourists, businessmen, and any other traveler, as long as he or she is beyond 2 years old, will have the surcharge added to the price of their plane ticket.


Japanese authorities expect to raise about 50 billion yen. With the new money they plan to improve tourism infrastructure, including making the immigration process at the airport smoother, and encouraging visitors to go beyond the usual Tokyo and Kyoto stops during their stays in Japan.


The Asian democracy has been stepping up its marketing to the international tourist sector as a new source for its economic growth. In 2018 it is estimated that about 30 million foreigners visited Japan, the most ever. Many of the growth in tourism comes from Asian visitors, especially those arriving from China, South Korea and Taiwan. Japan is hoping that the coming Olympics will get the number of visitors to Japan up to 40 million by the year 2020.

New and Unusual Ways to Show the World You’ve Made It


Some people like yachts, others like watches. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and a luxury sports car can compensate for a lot. But what if you’ve got the money, but you are also looking to assert your unique, individual, crazy rich self? Here are a few bizarre ways you can flaunt your success.

A 1960 Michigan, USA, license plate. Courtesy
Absecon 49


Out in Silicon Valley the high-techies have taken to adopting chickens, which they keep as pets in their backyards. There’s a rumor that some even come in the house, with diapers on, of course, and are fed gourmet chicken feed. Go figure.


We know it can get bone-chilling cold in Chicago, so we do expect the outerwear to be high-quality, warm, and water-proof, too. Lucky for those with a few extra thousand dollars laying around, it is possible to purchase a $1,000 Canada Goose parka and keep your buns warm while telling the world you are ready for a vacation at the North Pole.


In Washington DC it seems it is trendy to wait on lines, most notably to visit overpriced restaurants and bars that serve boutique cocktails.


Americans are quite fond of their vanity license plates, but in New England this fad has been taken to a whole new level. Massachusetts is the first state in the USA to issue license plates for cars, back in 1903, with, of all things, Number 1. As you might imagine, low numbered plates are quite the rarity, and if its dear, the filthy rich will pay for the privilege of driving around with a low numbered plate. It has been estimated that some people will pay upwards of $100,000 for a low-numbered plate, and the much-desired plates are being passed down to the generations to come.


In Texas the filthy rich are going for luxury pick-up trucks, while in New York City big families have become a trend. And what could be pricier than several tuitions for private school?

Christmas Eve Trading in 2018 Worst in US History

The Dow Jones plunged 640 points on Monday, December 24 during shorter than normal hours due to the Christmas holiday. The sell-off was prompted by an unstable White House which reacted poorly to one of the worst trading weeks in ten years.


The S&P 500, NASDAQ and the Dow Jones all fell at least 2.2%, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2.85%, 640 points. These numbers declare the historic, harrowing losses experienced on Christmas Eve, pushing the stock market for a yearly decline of about 11%. If the year ends with such a decline it will be the worst year since the beginning of the financial crisis.


Investors are struggling to understand the forces that prompted the retreat, speculating on several possibilities all coming together to sow chaos and concern.


Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called on six bank CEOs to try and reassure them and fragile financial markets after an historically poor week. It was a highly unusual move, which only made matters worse.


There is concern that President Trump is seeking to fire Federal Reserve head Jerome Powell. Trump is angry that the Fed has raised interest rates four times already and inquired of his aids if he had the authority to fire the Chairman of the independent Federal Reserve.


This might just be the end of the decade-long bull market which was helped to a great extent by loose monetary policy. From the 2009 low to the high of this past September, US stocks have climbed by 280%. But global growth is losing some steam, a trade war with China and others, and interventionist Fed policy are all coming together to accompany a new kind of stock market.


“Markets still under pressure from last week’s more hawkish Fed update, exacerbating fears about slowing growth and more expensive refinancing following years of stimulus,” said Michael van Dulken, the head of research at Accendo Markets.