First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) in Cincinnati has agreed buy First Bexley Bank, in a deal that would bring First Financial into the Columbus market.

First Financial agreed to pay about $44.5 million in cash and stock for the $295 million-asset First Bexley, it said Wednesday. The Bexley, Ohio, bank has total shareholders' equity of $22.7 million and tangible book value per common share of $16.45, First Financial said.

The acquisition would add one branch to the $6.3 billion-asset First Financial's network, which consists of 110 locations in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

First Bexley "has been one of the most profitable banks in the state of Ohio, with average quarterly return on assets exceeding 1.35% since 2012," First Financial Chief Executive Claude Davis said in a news release. "Entering the Columbus market has been a strategic priority for us, and First Bexley provides an excellent platform for continued growth."

First Financial estimates that, including an estimated $3.5 million restructuring charge, the deal will dilute its tangible book value per common share by 19 cents, or 1.8%. Excluding the restructuring charge, the acquisition will be accretive to its 2014 earnings per share by 2 to 3 cents, First Financial said.

First Bexley was founded in 2006.

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