A Guide to the Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation) Records, 1985-1996

Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation) Records

Summary Information

Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation) Records
Source - dnr
Narkis, Robert
Inclusive Dates
13.3 Linear Feet
10 boxes
Call Number
Finding Aid Prepared By
Laura Smith
University of Connecticut Libraries 405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205 Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1205 archives@uconn.edu URL:

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Access and Use

Acquisition Information

The Centerbank Records were donated by Mr. Robert Narkis of Waterbury, Connecticut, in March 2016.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Narkis, Robert


  • Banks and banking

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Biographical / Historical

Centerbank (CFCX - Center Financial Corporation) was formed as the Waterbury Savings Bank in 1850 as a mutual savings bank (a bank that are owned by the depositors), formed by people of the town of Waterbury, Connecticut. In the 1970s the Waterbury Savings Bank changed its name to the Banking Center and by the 1980s it was decided to move from a mutual savings bank to a stock bank (a bank that is public with a profit motive) with no stipulations on who could bank or borrow with them. The name was changed to Centerbank when the bank went public (owned by shareholders and existed in the stock exchange).

In the 1980s Centerbank merged with two other banks, including Waterbury Savings Bank. Beginning in the mid-1980s Mr. Robert J. Narkis, a lawyer in Waterbury, Connecticut, served on the executive committee of the Waterbury Savings Bank. In December 1989, as Connecticut faced a slowdown in the economy, decreased housing prices and a glut in the real estate market, the Board of Directors of Centerbank, a $1,000,000,000+ bank with 11% in nonperforming assets and under FDIC scrutiny, hired Mr. Narkis to solve its problems of bad loan decisions, mismanagened assets, and earnings and stock price short falls. Shortly thereafter he was appointed CEO and developed and executed a plan for the bank's survival, which included using the diminishing capital to purchase from the FDIC troubled Connecticut banks, including the New Haven Savings Bank, on favorable terms which involved little competitive bidding from others. This led to Centerbank's ability to dispose of nonperforming assets at a large discount. Center Financial Corporation, Centerbank's holding company, was formed in 1990.

By 1995 Centerbank was a sound $3.5 billion bank with about 45 branches in Waterbury, New Haven, Meriden and other towns in the region, at that time the third largest Connecticut bank showing good returns on assets and equity. Over this period the stock moved from $2.00 per share to $35.00 per share. By 1996 Centerbank was the fifth largest bank in Connecticut and the third largest state-based bank with reported assets of $3.7 billion and deposits of $2.5 billion.

In 1996 First Union Bank and First Union Corporation, at that time the nation's sixth largest bank holding company, made a rich purchase offer, and it became clear that the Centerbank shareholders would do significantly better if the offer were accepted. That summer Centerbank was sold to First Union Bank. In 2001 First Union Bank was purchased by Wachovia.

A note about terms found among the papers:

"Merriman 1" was an offer on CityTrust in 1991 which was not accepted by the FDIC (CityTrust was purchased by Chase Manhattan Bank).

"Project Charlie" of 1994 involved "chasing" twelve different banks, including Webster Bank, for possible mergers. This project did not achieve its objectives succeed.

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Content Description

The collection consists of administrative records of Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation), dated mostly from the period of when it merged with Waterbury Savings Bank in 1989 to its demise in 1996. Includes documents that chronicle the merger of Centerbank with First Union Bank of Connecticut in 1996. All of the records were those gathered and saved by Mr. Robert J. Narkis, a lawyer of Waterbury, Connecticut, and member of the Board of Directors of Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation) who served as the CEO of the bank from 1990 to 1996. Many of the records include Mr. Narkis's notes.

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Collection Inventory

Series I: Records 1985-1996 


Reports, certificates, memoranda, correspondence, pamphlets, photographic prints, 1985-1996 

Scope and Contents

Centerbank and subsidiaries business, strategic and financial plans (1990); company quarterly report pamphlets (1987-1996); correspondence with the Connecticut Department of Banking; Shares of Common Stock subscription offering circulars (1986); Certificate of Conversion from a Connecticut Mutual Savings Bank to a Connecticut Capital Stock Savings Bank (1986); The Banking Center 1987 annual report and 1985-1986 Board of Directors meeting minutes; photographic prints, "Great Country Def. Agree Pics," which show men, including Robert Narkis, seated at a table signing documents; annual reports of The Banking Center/Centerbank (1985-1995); office memorandum about mortgage loans (1986); October 1985 financial report about loan activity


Financial records, organizational charts, memoranda, reports, 1989-1995 

Scope and Contents

Proposal to Acquire the Assets of Citytrust and Mechanics and Farmers Savings Bank (1991); working papers for "Project Charlie" (1994); Acquisition information for Tucker Leasing Corporation (1989); Centerbank organizational charts (1995); memorandum, instructions and conditions for bidding, proposal to acquire assets of in Citytrust sale (1991).


Correspondence, reports, legal records, meeting minutes, by-laws, notes, 1990-1994 

Scope and Contents

Employment agreement between Robert J. Narkis and Centerbank and other documents generated to establish Centerbank, including a General Description of Business and a list of properties; documents associated with the 1992 annual meeting including correspondence from shareholders, annual report, transcriptions of answers to questions about dividends, profitability, non-performing assets, lending, and other issues; Questions and answers in preparation for the 1993 annual meeting; Board of Directors meeting documents including by-laws, notes, and news clippings (1993); Shareholders meeting documents including a transcript of the discussion, particularly about the issue of executive compensation (1993); 1994 annual report


Meeting minutes, financial reports, newspaper clippings, lists, reports, business plans, memoranda, 1989-1996 

Text   4
Audio   2016-0042

Scope and Contents

Planning report for 1990 (1989); Report of a presentation to Centerbank's board of directors about strategic alternatives, sources of earnings enhancement and defensive considerations (1990); Business plan executive summary (1990); 1990 report -- Improving Shareholder Value; Strategic objectives for 1993 with newspaper articles (1992); Loan committee meetings (1992-1993); 1993 Board of Directors meeting minutes; Strategic planning, strategic alternatives, strategic review (1994); Shawmut National Corporation Project Circle (1994); lists of "highlights" that occurred through the year, compiled by the CEO (1995); Senior executive management committee meetings notes and documents (1996); Interoffice memoranda (1996). Also includes an audiocassette of the May 9, 1994, monthly breakfast meeting.


Reports, newspaper clippings, publications, financial and administrative records, notes, correspondence, 1991-1992 

Scope and Contents

Documents related to the acquisition of Connecticut Savings Bank. Include an audit report, acquisition proposals, loan quality report. Also includes notes about a bid for the Central Bank of Meridan, Connecticut.


Agendas, notes, transcripts, 1991-1996 

Scope and Contents

Senior Management breakfast meetings, All Employee meeting.


Reports, memorandum, financial and administrative records, news releases, annual and quarterly reports, 1993-1995 

Scope and Contents

Briefing document on Senior Executive Compensation and speaker's notes for the shareholder's annual meeting. Includes information about operating expenses, profitability, stock, corporate policy, etc.; Board of Directors meeting agendas with earnings summaries and, mortgage company recaps.


Meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, notes, 1993-1995 

Scope and Contents

Senior executive Management Committee; proposal of Centerbank Mortgage Company's "Dreams to Build On" Program; Webster Bank conversion and the acquisition of Bristol Savings Bank.


Newsletters, legal documents, agendas, notes, correspondence, annual reports, 1994-1996 

Scope and Contents

Documents mostly concerning the merger of Centerbank with First Union, including remarks made by Robert Narkis at the "25 Year Club" meeting, disclosure schedules relating to the "Agreement and Plan of Mergers dated as of June 14, 1996, by and among Center Financial Corporation, Center Bank, First Union Corp. and First Union Bank of Connecticut"; senior executive meeting (June 17, 1996, about the merger); correspondence from legal firm hired to "render financial advisory and investment banking services" in connection with mergers; Center Financial Corp. annual report (1995) and First Union Corpoate Profile report (1995).


Reports, memoranda, notes, charts, financial documents 1995-1996 

Scope and Contents

Stockholders and Board of Directors meetings.


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