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Chicopee, Hampden Said to Weigh Sales Amid Investor Pressure

Chicopee Bancorp Inc. and Hampden Bancorp Inc., Massachusetts lenders that have competed for more than 150 years, are weighing sales amid pressure from an activist investor, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The firms are talking with investment banks about finding buyers next year, said the people, who asked not to be named because the processes are private. Dallas-based hedge fund Clover Partners LP, which owns stakes in both, has publicly urged them to consider sales over the past three months.

Chicopee is working with Stifel Financial Corp. to evaluate options, said two of the people. Hampden hasn’t chosen an adviser yet, though it has held discussions with investment bank KBW Inc. about handling a strategic review after Jan. 1, said a third person.

Chicopee climbed 7.3 percent to $15.40 as of 4 p.m. in New York following Bloomberg’s report. Hampden advanced 4.1 percent to $15.20.

Guida Sajdak, chief financial officer at Chicopee, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment. Robert Massey, Hampden’s CFO, said the bank intends to comply with a non-binding shareholder proposal passed in November that calls on the board to consider a sale or other measure to boost investor returns. He declined to elaborate.

KBW spokesman Mike Gelormino declined to comment. Sarah Anderson, a spokeswoman for Stifel, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Clover’s Stakes

Chicopee and Springfield-based Hampden each had less than $650 million in assets as of Sept. 30. Chicopee had a market value of $78 million as of yesterday, compared with $86 million for Hampden.

Clover has about $87 million invested in more than two dozen community banks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The firm urged Hampden’s board to sell in a letter filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Oct. 17. It filed a similar letter with the SEC to Chicopee’s board on Dec. 5. Clover Partners Principal Johnny Guerry declined to comment.

Chicopee, which operates less than 10 branches, was founded in 1854. Hampden, which has 10 branches, was founded in 1852. Both are former mutual thrift holding companies, or one-time savings banks owned by depositors.

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