Citizens to acquire Cleveland-based M&A firm

PROVIDENCE – Citizens Financial Group Inc. expects to purchase a Cleveland-based merger-and-acquisition advisory firm in an attempt to bolster its M&A and financial advising business lines.

Pending a final regulatory approval, Citizens will acquire Western Reserve Partners LLC for an undisclosed amount of money. Citizens said it would use cash to fund the transaction.

Bank executives expect the acquisition to strengthen its financial advisory services, especially where it focuses on middle-market clients, according to a press release. The acquisition will add approximately 30 new employees to Citizens’ workforce, including nine managing directors with an average of more than 30 years of financial service experience, according to the release.

Ralph M. Della Ratta, Western Reserve CEO and managing partner, co-founded the Cleveland firm in 2004. Della Ratta will lead the new team, which the Providence bank expects should strengthen its presence in the Midwest region. The team will report to Donald McCree, vice chairman and head of commercial banking.

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“Citizens is dedicated to delivering the expertise, capabilities and strong execution to help each client through its business life cycle,” McCree said in prepared remarks. “We have been moving decisively to broaden our capabilities and this acquisition adds scale and deep expertise, along with a strong cultural fit that will help us to advise our clients more effectively.”

The deal is expected to close this month. The firm will operate as Western Reserve Partners, a division of Citizens Capital Markets Inc. The division of commercial banking launched last year, as Citizens has been trying to bolster its broker-dealer capabilities.

Citizens, parent of Citizens Bank N.A., reported $150.3 million assets for the first quarter of 2017, and is the largest Rhode Island-based bank.

Della Ratta lauded the deal.

“We are delighted to join such a strong and growing commercial bank,” he said in a statement. “The decision to buy or sell is among the most critical a business can make, and this transaction positions Citizens even more strongly to partner with its clients at that critical stage of their business life.”

Eli Sherman is a PBN staff writer.