WARREN, OHIO - First Place Financial Corp. said Wednesday it would buy FFY Financial Corp., Youngstown, for about $72 million in stock, in a deal the companies said would create the fourth largest thrift institution in the state.

The new corporation would have $1.7 billion of assets and 35 locations. First Place said it expects to save about $4 million pretax, about 13% of the combined company's noninterest expenses.

First Place president and chief executive Steven R. Lewis would be president and chief executive of the combined company, which would be called First Place Financial. FFY Financial president and chief executive Jeffrey L. Francis would be executive vice president.

First Place Financial Corp. has agreed to exchange 1.075 shares for each share of FFY Financial. The companies say they expect to close the deal by the end of the year, pending approvals.

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