Area Bancshares said late Wednesday that it has a deal to buy four banks in western Kentucky for a combined $77.8 million in cash.

Area, a multibank holding company with $2.3 billion of assets, plans to acquire $266 million-asset Peoples Bank, in Murray; $49 million-asset Bank of Lyon County, in Eddyville; $39 million-asset Bank of Livingston County, in Tiline; and $28 million-asset Dees Bank, in Hazel. It hopes to close the deals in January.

All four companies to be bought are owned by a single family. Harold G. Doran Jr., president and director of each of the banks, said the goal is for the small banks to "align with an institution that can provide customers with the broadest array of products and services."

The deal calls for the four banks to be merged into one subsidiary of Area, which operates 13 banks with 58 branches in Kentucky. -- Louis Whiteman

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