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Berkshire Bank Expands Commercial Banking Services In Central Massachusetts

PITTSFIELD, Mass., Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Berkshire Hills Bancorp (NASDAQ: BHLB) has recruited an experienced commercial banking team to service small and middle-market businesses in central and eastern Massachusetts. Beginning December 1, the team will be based at a new Berkshire Bank Commercial Banking Center located at 45 Lyman Street, Westborough, Mass.

The Bank has appointed James Curran as Senior Vice President and Commercial Regional Manager. Joining Curran's team will be John Faber and Karen Dumas as Senior Vice Presidents and Commercial Relationship Managers.  Also joining the team will be David Sabourin, Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager; Suzana Trebicka, Assistant Vice President and Senior Commercial Credit Underwriter; and Timothy Hussey, Assistant Vice President and Portfolio Manager.  These individuals have over 85 years of combined experience in providing commercial lending solutions to businesses in the central Massachusetts region and in northern Connecticut.  This team has been working together for over 20 years at Sovereign Bank.  At Berkshire, Curran will report to Patrick J. Sullivan, Executive Vice President of Commercial Banking of Berkshire Bank.

The team comes with a great deal of experience in a wide range of commercial lending specialties including providing financial solutions in the areas of health care and higher education. Curran has specialized in the commercial middle-market segment, most recently serving as the Regional Executive for central Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut for Sovereign/Santander.

"I have worked with Jim and this entire team for many years and know firsthand their expertise and experience in providing quality financing solutions to businesses of all types," said Sullivan. "They each have specific areas in which they have vast experience, and together will have the ability to provide top-notch products and services to companies and organizations in many different industries. This commercial banking expansion will help us achieve our goal to diversify from commercial real estate toward business banking targeted specifically for small- and middle-market businesses. It will also complement well our experienced asset based lending team that joined us in 2010 and which has enjoyed great success serving middle market businesses throughout our New England and New York footprint from their Woburn, Massachusetts headquarters."

Berkshire's President and CEO, Michael P. Daly, stated, " Berkshire continues to take advantage of opportunities to expand and enhance our franchise by delivering locally managed customer solutions with the strength of our regional organization.  I welcome Jim and his team and look forward to expanding our financial resources in the central and eastern Massachusetts markets.  This expansion follows the 2010 expansions of our Springfield regional headquarters and our entry into asset based lending headquartered in Woburn, and it complements our recently announced merger agreement with the Hartford-based Connecticut Bank and Trust Company."

Mr. Daly added, "This market area has been part of our strategic focus for several years and it remains our expectation to develop our New England presence with our existing capital and earnings resources in the context of our existing plans.  While we are always scrutinizing potential growth opportunities that may become available in the northeast, our current primary focus will be on integrating our recent acquisitions and closing our pending transaction with the Connecticut Bank and Trust Company.  Additionally, our capital planning will focus on making our existing stock more valuable and we look very cautiously at the issuance of additional securities which are not part of any whole bank acquisition.  We have no current plans to engage in large scale branch acquisitions as we have had great success growing our deposits through our organic and de novo branching initiatives and are positioned to invest these funds on Main Street in our markets.  With all of these initiatives, we are investing in future growth in support of our communities.  We remain very committed to the successful execution of these initiatives in our footprint and delivering on our performance targets and $2.00 core EPS run rate target within twelve months."


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