Camden National Bank is moving into central Maine.

The Camden-based bank, a subsidiary of Camden National Corp., has signed an agreement to buy 15 Maine branches of Bank of America, including the three in Augusta and others in Gardiner, Newport and Waterville.

The transaction is expected to take place this fall and is subject to regulatory approval.

Greg Dufour, president and chief executive officer of Camden National Bank, said Tuesday that the bank in December bought a site at 22 Western Ave. in Augusta, which formerly housed The Bank of Maine.

“We had already identified Augusta as a market that we wanted to be in,” Dufour said.

Up until the purchase, which reportedly cost about $20 million, the closest Camden National Bank to central Maine was in the Knox County town of Union. The acquisitions will give Camden National Bank a total of 53 banking branches.

Dufour said Camden National Bank has yet to decide about the future of an estimated 75 bank employees working at the 15 Bank of America locations, including those in Kennebec, Androscoggin, Knox and Penobscot counties.

Camden National Bank has 425 employees.

“The plan right now over the next couple of weeks is to start talking to employees, learn about them and about the business and analyze and figure out what is the right structure for those locations going forward,” Dufour said.

He said it is unlikely now that Camden National Bank will open a branch at the 22 Western Ave. site in Augusta, since Bank of America has three locations, at 127 Community Drive, 38 Bangor St. and 21 Armory St.

The regulators looking into the bank branch purchases are the Office of the Controller of the Currency as well at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the same agencies regulate both national banks.

Dufour said the bank expects to transition customers over to Camden National Bank, issuing new debit cards and new checks by the end of the third quarter, and assuming regulator approval.

Dufour characterized the transaction, in which Bank of America is divesting a portion of its franchise, as friendly.

“They want a smooth transition as much as we do,” he said.

The affected branches are in Auburn, Brewer, Gardiner, Lewiston, Newport, Old Town, Rockland and Waterville, as well as the three each in Augusta and Bangor markets. The bank is also acquiring the on-site ATMs, Dufour said. Camden National will also reopen the Orono branch.

A statement from the bank said the transaction will result in the largest market share of deposits held by an independent community bank headquartered in Maine.

Bank of America officials didn’t say why the branches were being sold, but said in a statement that it was the right decision “so the community will continue to have access to a banking center, more employees will keep their jobs, and customers will have the ability to keep banking at the same branch that is most convenient for them.”

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Bank of America announced last September that it planned to lay off 30,000 employees over the coming years as it cut $5 billion in costs.

The Charlotte Business Journal reported Tuesday that the deal comes after Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told investors last week that the sale of branches was under consideration. The Journal said Bank of America is trying to shrink its branch network nationwide by about 750 locations.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Camden National Bank is buying the following local branches from Bank of America:

Augusta

* 127 Community Drive, Suite 101

* 38 Bangor St.

* 21 Armory St.

Gardiner

* 192 Water St.

Newport

* 79 Main St.

Waterville

* 33 Main St.

Source: Bank of America


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