Blackhawk Bancorp of Beloit, Wis., has agreed to buy Belvidere, Ill.- based First Financial Bancorp for $12.6 million in cash.

Blackhawk, a bank holding company with $201 million of assets, would pay up to $30 per share for each outstanding share of First Financial, an $82 million-asset, three-branch thrift company. The deal, for 1.63 times First Financial's book value, is expected to close during the third quarter.

The merger price could decline to $12.2 million, or $29 per share, depending on the thrift's performance between now and the scheduled closing, according to a statement from Blackhawk.

Dennis M. Conerton, president and chief executive officer of Blackhawk, said First Financial is in a growing area not far from Blackhawk's headquarters, on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Blackhawk moved into Illinois last year by buying Rochelle (Ill.) Bancorp, a $48 million-asset thrift company.

-Laura Pavlenko Lutton

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.