Chemical Financial in Midland, Mich., has agreed to buy Monarch Community Bancorp in Coldwater, Mich.

The $7.4 billion-asset Chemical will pay $26 million in stock for the $177 million-asset Monarch in a deal that is expected to close in the first quarter.

"Strategically, this partnership with Monarch and its talented group of community-oriented bankers … gives us an increased and important presence along the Michigan-Indiana border, enhancing our south region footprint," David Ramaker, Chemical's chairman, president and chief executive, said in a press release Monday.

Monarch also has $136 million in loans, $144 million in deposits, five branches and six loan production offices. Chemical said it expects to cut about 40% of Monarch's operating expenses.

Chemical was advised by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Warner Norcross & Judd. Monarch was advised by Donnelly Penman & Partners and Howard & Howard Attorneys.

Chemical last week completed its $120 million cash purchase of Northwestern Bancorp in Traverse City, Mich.

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