Sidhu: 'Customers 1st Bank' plans new hires, branches

"Customers 1st Bank" is the new name for the former New Century Bank, the ailing Phoenixville-based lender, owned by  taken over and recapitalized (with $67 million in investors' money) by ex-Sovereign Bancorp boss Jay S. Sidhu last year.

Sidhu says he'll open four new offices in Bucks and Berks (near Reading) Counties, PA and Mercer County (near Trenton and Princeton), NJ this year. The bank will hire up to 20 new people, see "Careers" at www.newcenturybank.com

Forced out as boss of Sovereign by a 2007 institutional investors' rebellion, he left just in time to avoid the financial collapse that drove bank stocks lower, and just in time to buy New Century on the cheap from insiders headed by Kenneth Mumma, publisher Steve Forbes' brother-in-law. Sidhu says loans are up 63%, or $106 million, from last June through March. Deposits rose 112%, up $194 million.

So why change the name? "Do Not Be Confused!" New Century told customers on its Web site after an Illinois bank with the same name was seized by the FDIC recently.

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