First Banks of Missouri Buying Another Calif. Bank, for $14M

Continuing a California acquisition spree, First Banks Inc. of Creve Coeur, Mo., has agreed to buy Bank of Ventura for $13.6 million in cash.The target has $67 million of assets. First Banks, which has $4.9 billion, would pay $25.52 per share - 2.58 times book and 20.8 times last year's earnings. Findley Reports, a rating service that specializes in California banks, rates Bank of Ventura a premier performer.

James F. Dierberg, chairman and chief executive officer of First Banks, said the acquisition will fill a void for his company - it has a loan production office in the Ventura area but it has no depository institution. "This gives us a way to take deposits," Mr. Dierberg said.

The deal was announced this week and is expected to close this summer.

First Banks has acquired 14 California banks since 1994, including Century Bank of Beverly Hills last year and San Francisco's Lippo Bank this year. More California acquisitions are planned, Mr. Dierberg said.

At yearend First Banks had 135 offices in California, Missouri, Texas, and Illinois.

- Eric Winig

Lincoln Bancorp of Indiana to Pay $18M for Small Neighboring Thrift

A $411 million-asset central Indiana thrift said it plans to buy a smaller one nearby for about $17.8 million in stock and cash.Plainfield-based Lincoln Bancorp, the parent of Lincoln Federal Savings Bank, said it expects to complete the purchase of $63 million-asset Citizens Bancorp in Frankfort, Ind., during the third quarter.

Lincoln said it plans to pay about $18.52 - $9.38 in cash and 0.9375 shares of its own stock - for each Citizens share.

That is a 68% premium to the $11 at which Citizens closed Monday, the day before the announcement. By midday Thursday its stock was trading at $16.25.

Citizens' sole subsidiary, Citizens Savings Bank of Frankfort, would merge into Lincoln Federal Savings Bank. Fred W. Carter, Citizens Bancorp's president, expects to join Lincoln's board.

- Craig Woker

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