Indiana's National City Bancshares announced plans this week to expand in Kentucky by agreeing to acquire Community First Financial Inc. of Maysville.

National City, with $1.5 billion of assets, said it would exchange 1.44 million shares of its common stock for the stock of Community First. Based on National City's Tuesday closing stock price of $39.50, the deal price would be about $56.8 million.

Robert D. Vance, chairman and chief executive officer of $150 million- asset Community First, said the company agreed to sell "to give more liquidity to our shareholders." He also noted that Community First would continue to operate independently, with its own name and board of directors.

Evansville-based National City operates 14 community banks in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. The fast-growing company closed this week on its acquisition of Vernois Bancshares in Mount Vernon, Ill., and has deals pend ing for Trigg County Farmers Bank, Cadiz, Ky., and Illinois One Bancorp, Shawneetown.

The Community First acquisition is expected to close in the second or third quarter.

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