Stamford-based Patriot National Bancorp is expanding in Fairfield County in the hopes of better competing with other local institutions, as well as national players like Citibank.

Banks just can’t get enough of Fairfield County. After a string of announcements that national banks like Citibank and HSBC National Bank USA are expanding in the area, a local bank last week announced it has filed for a follow-on public offering, which will raise capital for branch expansion within Fairfield County.

Stamford-based Patriot National Bancorp filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission to offer 1.1 million shares of its common stock. The bank, which already has 10 branches in the county, will expand in Fairfield, Milford and Trumbull, according to Charles F. Howell, president and chief executive officer of the institution.

The bank, which opened in 1994, showed earnings of $508,000 and a substantial increase in loans in the second quarter of this year, and Howell said he is encouraged by the results. The bank also entered into an agreement in July to acquire a branch office in New York City, which will permit the bank to expand in Westchester County.

“We’ve been growing very rapidly,” Howell said.

The bank is focused on growing in contiguous markets, according to its earnings report, and continues to identify markets with strong potential for expansion. It has received approval for two branches in Fairfield, one in Milford and one in Trumbull, all of which are expected to open in the fourth quarter of this year.

The bank’s 10 existing branches are in Stamford, Darien, Greenwich, Norwalk, Old Greenwich, Southport and Wilton. The bank also has loan production offices in Stamford, New York City and Melville, N.Y.

The move follows the news that New York-based HSBC filed an application with the state Department of Banking last month to open a de novo branch at 7 Landmark Square in Stamford, which reportedly is just the beginning for that bank. According to spokesman Stephen Cohen of HSBC, the institution does have further plans to expand in Connecticut.

According to statistics from the Bank Analysis Center in Hartford, Bridgeport-based People’s Mutual Holdings, parent company of People’s Bank, continues to dominate the market, with most of the market share. Patriot also holds a substantial portion, and is the 13th-largest bank in the county, based on market share. But out-of-state banks – New York-based J.P. Morgan Chase, Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America, which also maintains its headquarters in Charlotte – followed closely behind. New York-based Citigroup, whose retail banking arm is Citibank, and Toronto-based Toronto-Dominion Bank also hold relatively large chunks of the market share.

Banks Expanding

Prior to HSBC revealing its plans to expand in Fairfield County, several other banks announced expansions in the county and across the state. In July, Virginia-based Capital One acquired Long Island-based North Fork Bancorporation, which operates a bank in Branford, near New Haven. The bank’s chief executive officer named Connecticut as a state where the bank intends to continue growing its banking business.

Citibank, which already has branches in Fairfield County, announced in June it will open some de novo branches in Connecticut. Some will be located in the Hartford area, but many will be in existing markets, which could include Fairfield County.

Last April, JPMorgan Chase and The Bank of New York Co. announced a deal in which JPMorgan is to acquire The Bank of New York’s consumer, small-business and middle-market banking businesses in exchange for JPMorgan’s corporate trust business, plus a cash payment of $150 million. That expanded the bank’s branch network in Fairfield County.

Sandler O’Neill & Partners will be the sole underwriter of Patriot’s follow-on offering, and will be granted a 30-day over-allotment option to purchase from the company up to an additional 165,000 shares of common stock, representing 15 percent of the shares to be sold in the offering. All shares will be offered by the company, and the public offering price has not yet been determined.

The securities cannot be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time the registration statement from the SEC becomes effective.

Patriot reported record quarterly earnings for the second quarter of $508,000, or 16 cents diluted income per share, representing an increase of 45 percent over net income of $351,000 in the second quarter of 2005. For the six months that ended on June 30, 2006, net income of $907,000 was up 42 percent compared to net income of $638,000 reported for the six months ended June 30, 2005. The bank attributed the performance to strong growth in loans and deposits, which led to an improved net-interest margin and higher levels of net-interest income.

This year, total loans increased $42 million, or 10 percent, from $408 million at the end of March to $450 million at the end of June. Total loans as of June 30 were up $150 million, or 50 percent, from $301 million at June 30, 2005. The bank achieved growth in construction, commercial real estate and residential mortgage loans due to continued strength in the local real estate market. Credit quality remains strong, according to the earnings statement. Non-accruing loans, at $4.5 million, are unchanged from the quarter ended March 31, 2006.