YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - United Community Financial Corp. announced Thursday that it plans to purchase East Liverpool, Ohio-based Potters Financial Corp. for $23.6 million in cash.

The transaction, which is scheduled to close during the first quarter of 2002, would result in the merger of Potters' sole subsidiary, $151 million-asset Potters Bank, into Home Savings and Loan Co., United Community's principal subsidiary.

The sale price is equal to $22 per share and represents 1.81 times Potters' June 30 book value. The deal would give $1.9 billion-asset United Community a deposit base of $1.4 billion, giving it the second-largest market share in the Youngstown-Warren region.

The announcement comes two months after United completed a $91.8 million acquisition of $416 million Industrial Bancorp Inc., of Bellevue, Ohio.

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