First Merchants (FRME) is buying CFS Bancorp (CITZ) in a deal that would create a $5.6 billion-asset Indiana bank.

First Merchants, in Muncie, would pay roughly $114.7 million in stock for CFS, the parent of Citizens Financial in Munster, the companies said Monday.

First Merchants has $4.3 billion in assets and 76 branches in Indiana and Ohio. CFS has $1.1 billion in assets and 20 branches in Indiana and Illinois.

Under the agreement, CFS shareholders would receive 0.65 shares of First Merchants' common stock for each share they own. The Citizens unit would merge into First Merchants Bank as part of the deal, which is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

"We believe that our strategy to be a service-driven alternative to our super-regional bank competitors will support the acceleration of Citizens' current initiatives while furthering our goal of becoming a more efficient, higher performing company," Michael Rechin, First Merchants' chief executive, said in a press release.

"Our bankers look forward to taking advantage of new product capabilities and continuing to build momentum with our clients as First Merchants," said Daryl Pomranke, Citizens' chief executive.

Both Pomranke and DalE Clapp, Citizens' executive vice president of sales management, are expected to become executives of First Merchants following completion of the deal. Pomranke would serve as regional president.

Sandler O'Neill and the law firm of Bingham Greenebaum advised First Merchants in the deal. Citizens was advised by River Branch Capital and the law firm of Vedder Price.

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