Capital One, the Virginia-based financial corporation best known for its credit card business, is branching out into retail banking and, following a recent acquisition giving the bank a local foothold, Connecticut could be the next target in the company’s growth strategy.

The company filed an application with the Connecticut Department of Banking earlier this month to acquire North Fork Bancorporation, a holding company based on Long Island, N.Y., that operates Superior Savings Bank of New England in Branford, Conn.

The Branford bank focuses on telebanking products, but also has a retail banking center. According to John Carusone, president of the Bank Analysis Center in Hartford, Superior Savings is “not a major competitive factor in the banking industry in the greater New Haven area at this time.

“Nonetheless, Capital One may wish to use the franchise as a springboard for growth to a more comprehensive Connecticut presence,” Carusone said.

The acquisition was first announced in March and follows one other bank acquisition, that of Hibernia Banks, which had branches in Texas and Louisiana. Capital One acquired that company late last year, a deal that marked the company’s first foray into retail banking.

Capital One plans to acquire North Fork, which has $58 billion in assets, in a stock-and-cash transaction valued at about $14.6 billion. The combined company will be one of the 10 largest banks in the country based on deposits and managed loans, and the third-largest retail depository institution in the New York region, according to Capital One.

Because Capital One does not have any other retail banks in the area, any changeovers for North Fork-held banks will be fairly free of disruption for customers, said Capital One spokeswoman Julie Rakes. When the company acquired Hibernia, most of the staff remained, and the biggest difference was the name change.

“We did not know retail banking” and made few changes to the status quo, Rakes said.

There are no concrete plans about which North Fork branches will remain open, but the tentative plan is to rename North Fork banks to Capital One, Rakes said.

Most of the bank’s branches are in New York on Long Island and in Manhattan.

“North Fork is a great strategic fit with Capital One and brings balance and diversification to our company,” said Richard D. Fairbank, chairman and chief executive officer of Capital One, in a prepared statement. “We’re continuing to combine the power of national lending and local banking. North Fork provides us with a proven franchise and a strong growth platform in the largest banking market in America. Our highest priority will be the successful integration of North Fork and the continued growth of our banking businesses in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Texas.”

Diversification Strategy

Capital One expects the acquisition to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year. North Fork’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer John A. Kanas will become the president of Capital One’s banking business, and will join Capital One’s board of directors. Herb Boydstun, president of Capital One’s existing banking subsidiary, will report to Kanas and will continue to lead Capital One’s banking business in Louisiana and Texas.

“I am especially pleased to welcome John Kanas, his outstanding management team, and North Fork’s talented employees to Capital One,” Fairbank said in a prepared statement. “Under John’s leadership over the last 35 years, North Fork has become one of America’s premier banks. John’s business acumen and operational excellence are legendary in banking. He will be a welcome addition to our senior management team and our board. North Fork is known for its commitment to its customers, employees and communities and, working with John and his team, we expect to build on this legacy.

“We remain committed to our banking strategy in Louisiana and Texas. Our integration of Hibernia continues to progress smoothly. We have a leading position in Louisiana and we’re accelerating Hibernia’s successful de novo growth strategy in the fastest-growing markets in Texas. Under Herb’s leadership, we’ll continue to focus on building a winning banking business in those markets.”

Capital One’s national reputation will help build the bank’s business, Kanas said.

“I share Rich’s vision for bringing together the best of Capital One and North Fork. Capital One already has over 3 million customer accounts in our footprint,” he said in a prepared statement. “Together, we can create great value for our shareholders and customers by combining Capital One’s financial strength, national brand, massive customer base, leading financial products and marketing capabilities, with our strong business-oriented banking franchise. I’m incredibly proud of everything that we created as an independent company and I am committed to building the next generation of North Fork as part of Capital One.”

The acquisition of North Fork is the latest step in Capital One’s ongoing diversification strategy, Rakes said. The company now has home equity and auto lending, and has expanded to offer credit cards and home loans in the United Kingdom and Canada.