CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- United Bankshares Inc. announced it has signed a definitive merger agreement with Arlington, Va.-based Virginia Commerce Bancorp Inc., which has $2.8 billion in assets and 28 banking offices in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
The acquisition continues United's shift in emphasis to the D.C.-area market.
United Bankshares operates two banks. Both are named United. One operates in West Virginia. The other operates in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
For many years the company was headquartered in Parkersburg, It has long advertised itself in the Mountain State as, "West Virginia's Bank." But United also has been keenly interested in expanding in the Washington metropolitan market.
Richard Adams is United's chairman and chief executive officer. At the company's 2002 annual meeting, he said the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Northern Virginia market "remains our No. 1 priority" when it comes to expansion, "however, we remain interested in West Virginia and Ohio."
By 2003, 50 percent of the company's revenue was coming from the Washington area. In 2005 United said that because of its increasing presence in that market, it was establishing a dual headquarters — one in Charleston, one in Washington, D.C.
During a panel discussion at the 2010 Business Summit, Adams said, "What separates the environment in West Virginia and Virginia? The answer is clear to me: It's all about policy: tax policy, judicial reform policy, education policy. There is no question: If West Virginia is to succeed from an economic standpoint, every issue faced in the legislature, we should ask, 'Are we competitive if we pass this legislation?'"
In 2011, the company had 52 offices in West Virginia and 60 in the Washington metro area. In a speech to the Rotary Club of Charleston that year, Adams said policies written by politicians made the state uncompetitive.
He said at the time that the taxes United paid in Virginia were half of the taxes it paid in West Virginia; "the legal system is like night and day"; and West Virginia needs education and tax reform.
United now has assets of $8.4 billion and 115 full-service offices in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.