Great Western Bancorp. Inc. of Watertown, S.D., has agreed to buy North Central Bancshares Inc. in Fort Dodge, Iowa, for $41.5 million.

Under the agreement, each outstanding common share of North Central will be converted into the right to receive $30.58 per share in cash. This is a roughly 39% premium over North Central's closing price on Monday, the $434 million-asset North Central said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

The $8.5 billion-asset Great Western Bank, a unit of National Australia Bank Ltd., has been active acquirer in recent years. It added 20 Colorado branches from First State Bancorp in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2009. In 2010, it purchased F&M Bank in Des Moines, Iowa, from Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. of Flint, Mich., and the failed TierOne Bank of Lincoln, Neb.

Great Western, which is involved in agricultural lending, has almost 200 branches in seven states.

Since North Central converted to a bank holding company in June, investor PL Capital Group has pressured executives to better manage its credit portfolio and make other changes or consider selling it.

North Central reported last week that profit for 2011 increased 53% to $2.6 million as its provision for loan losses fell almost 49%, to $2.1 million. North Central, which is the parent company for First Federal Savings Bank of Iowa, has 11 branches in Iowa.

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