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Mercantile Bankshares Corp.

1st Mariner buyers see value in local brand

1st Mariner buyers see value in local brand

The founder of 1st Mariner launched the Baltimore bank as an alternative to big, faceless, out-of-state institutions at a time when banks based elsewhere had rapidly gobbled up 30 percent of the Maryland market.

Now — 19 years and many acquisitions later — out-of-state banks control 80 percent of the pie.

That change hasn't dampened the enthusiasm 1st Mariner's new owners feel for the bank. Just the opposite.

The purchasing group with local ties, approved as the bank's winning bidder Tuesday by a federal bankruptcy judge, makes the same argument now that founder Edwin F. Hale Sr. offered in 1995: Baltimore needs this bank. It's the largest still based in the city —...