First Busey Corp., Urbana, Ill., abandoned the relative safety of over- the-counter stock trading Thursday and began selling its shares on Nasdaq.

Douglas C. Mills, chairman of the $950 million-asset bank holding company, said Busey transferred to Nasdaq so its stock would be more liquid and attractive if it made a stock-swap acquisition.

"It became apparent that in order for us to grow, we had to make the switch," he said.

Mr. Mills acknowledged that Busey's shares may be subject to greater price volatility now that they are trading on a national market, but he said he does not expect investors to evaluate the company any differently.

"Demand for our stock still exceeds supply," he said.

In its first day of Nasdaq trading, 35,500 shares changed hands, and the stock lost 25 cents a share to close at $19.75. At midday Monday, it was at $18.50.

First Busey is the parent of Busey Bank, which was founded in 1868 and is one of the oldest in Illinois. It has 18 branches in three counties.

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