Mercantile Bancorp., Missouri's largest banking company, has agreed to buy HomeCorp Inc., a Rockford, Ill.-based thrift, for approximately $41 million in stock.

Mercantile is swapping 0.4968 of its shares for each share of HomeCorp. The price works out to 1.89 times HomeCorp's book value, and 26 times its 1996 earnings. The merger is expected to close in the second quarter of 1998 and is being accounted for as a pooling. HomeCorp, parent of HomeBanc FSB, operates 10 branches in northern Illinois and reported $331 million of assets June 30.

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