Berkshire Bank parent company seeking piece of federal bailout

Despite raking in record earnings this year and successfully completing a $36 million public stock o
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Despite raking in record earnings this year and successfully completing a $36 million public stock offering last month, the parent company of Berkshire Bank is joining the line of regional banks going hat-in-hand to the federal government.

Berkshire Hills Bancorp has applied for $40 million in funding from the U.S. Treasury Department’s $250 billion Capital Purchase Program, under which the government props up banks by buying their preferred stock.

“Many of the healthiest banks in the country are participating in this program. … Berkshire Hills Bancorp is pleased to support this partnership to support of local markets,” the bank said in a statement.

Other regional bank holding companies slated to receive infusions through the program include Cleveland-based KeyCorp, which will get $2.5 billion, Lockport-based First Niagara Financial Group, which will get $186 million, and M&T Bank Corp., which will get $250 million. Charlotte-based Bank of America Corp. will also receive $25 billion.

The bank rescue fund is part of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Repurchase Program, which Congress approved in October.

Pittsfield-based Berkshire Bank has 38 branches in three states, including three in the Capital Region. For the first nine months of 2008, Berkshire Bank posted record earnings of $17 million, up 61.2 percent from the same period of 2007.

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