Providing further evidence that the banking border between Kansas and Missouri is a busy place these days, Fourth Financial Corp. has agreed to buy a Missouri thrift.

Fourth Financial, which at $6.1 billion of assets is Kansas' largest banking company, said last week it will purchase Great Southern Bancorporation, a Springfield company with $515 million of assets.

Despite the move, banking experts say that most Kansas-Missouri deals will continue to be initiated on the Missouri side.

Fourth Financial is the only Kansas institution with "enough horsepower" to reverse the interstate current, said Joseph Stieven, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Since Kansas relaxed its banking laws last year, buyout deals have been struck by Missouri giants such as Boatmen's Bancshares, Commerce Bancshares, Mercantile Bancorp, United Missouri Bancshares, and Mark Twain Bancshares.

Darrell G. Knudson, chairman and chief executive of Fourth, said he continues to scout southwest Missouri for purchases, especially around Springfield and Joplin.

Fourth is paying roughly $90 million in stock; or about 1.6 times book value, for the parent of Great Southern Savings Bank. The thrift, which operates 25 offices in southwestern and central Missouri, returned 0.99% on assets to investors in its last fiscal year.

The deal is expected to be closed by the first quarter of 1994.

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