Premier Financial Bancorp, Georgetown, Ky., has agreed to buy $40 million-asset Ohio River Bank, Ironton, for $7.8 million in stock.

Premier, which has $468 million of assets-none of them in Ohio-is also buying $70 million-asset Sabina (Ohio) Bank. That deal is expected to close Nov. 13 and the Ohio River deal by yearend.

Ohio River, which has one branch and a second in the works, would keep its charter and board. Premier, which owns five Kentucky community banks, has maintained separate boards and charters for each.

"In a small community, banks need to be market-driven," said J. Howell Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Premier. The company retains local market knowledge by keeping the boards and management of acquired banks in place, he said.

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