Deal bolsters Eagle Bancorp's presence in north Montana

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Eagle Bancorp Montana in Helena has agreed to buy Big Muddy Bancorp in Dutton, Mont., for $19 million in stock.

The combination would give the $802 million-asset Opportunity Bank of Montana, Eagle's banking unit, four additional branches and $94 million in deposits, the company said Tuesday.

Peter Johnson, Eagle’s president and CEO, said in a press release that the company has been diversifying its “balance sheet and our geographic footprint while approaching our target of $1 billion in total assets.” Eagle bought Ruby Valley Bank in Twin Bridges, Mont., earlier this year.

The deal “provides the ability to create revenue and cost synergies while offering the State Bank of Townsend customers a broader product offering, increased lending limits, and an expanded branch delivery system that stretches throughout the state,” Johnson said in the press release.

Ben Ruddy, president of Big Muddy, will lead the new branch efforts in north-central Montana once the deal closes. He will also join the boards of Eagle and Opportunity Bank. The $113 million-asset Big Muddy is the holding company of State Bank of Townsend.

“This combination allows us to partner with a strong community bank that is focused on providing great customer service, a deep commitment to the communities where it operates, and an excellent environment for employees,” Ruddy said in the release. “We look forward to working with the management team at Eagle to better serve our customers and become the bank of choice in our markets.”

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, pending regulatory and shareholder approval. The boards of both companies have approved the transaction.

Panoramic Capital Advisors and Nixon Peabody represented Eagle. Ballard Spahr and Vining Sparks represented Big Muddy.

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