First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) in Cincinnati is entering the Fort Wayne, Ind., market with the establishment of commercial and residential mortgage teams there.

Its six-person commercial lending team will be led by Robert Slusser, First Financial's Fort Wayne market president. Its four-person residential mortgage lending team will be headed by the company's mortgage sales manager, Brock Rauch.

First Financial also expects to add a full line of consumer banking products and services to the Fort Wayne market this year, according to a press release Monday.

"As one of the larger markets in Indiana, entering Fort Wayne has been a strategic priority for us," First Financial President and Chief Executive Claude Davis said in the release. "The addition of both commercial and residential mortgage teams with excellent client relationships will provide another catalyst for further loan and revenue growth."

The $6.3 billion-asset First Financial has 110 branches in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Its expansion into the Fort Wayne market "represents... further evidence of the building momentum at this company," Sandler O'Neill managing director R. Scott Siefers wrote in a note to clients. First Financial announced two acquisitions of Columbus-area banks in December, buying First Bexley Bank for $44.5 million and Insight Bank for $36.6 million.

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