A merger agreement that would create a $3.1 billion-asset thrift company with the ninth-largest market share in the Chicago area is getting mixed reviews.

MAF Bancorp, Clarendon Hills, Ill., last week said it agreed to pay $277 million to acquire $1.2 billion-asset N.S. Bancorp, Chicago, a franchise with a low-cost deposit base near MAF's existing market.

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