An investor group that includes a former executive of Ohio State Bank and Commercial Savings Bank of Ohio has reached a deal to buy a rural bank charter.

The group agreed to buy Citizens Bank of De Graff, a $29 million-asset institution in De Graff, Ohio, for about $4 million. The buyers plan to file an application for regulatory approval in the next week, says Shawn Keller, who leads the investor group and will be the bank's chief executive.

Keller, formerly with Ohio State Bank in Marion, and Commercial Savings Bank in Upper Sandusky, formed the investor group with other Ohio businessmen. Other investors include former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson and former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Stanley Jackson.

The group will keep the Citizens Bank name and retain the company's headquarters in De Graff, located about an hour north of Dayton. The new owners will lease space for a branch in the northern suburbs of Columbus, where the bank will operate as Buckeye State Bank. Keller says he wants to expand the bank's offerings to include online and mobile banking, remote deposit capture and other services that appeal to small businesses.

The investor group is trying to raise $8 million to $11 million, to be applied to the purchase price and the Columbus expansion, Keller says.

Austin Associates of Toledo, Ohio, advised Citizens on the deal, and Shumaker Loop & Kendrick in Toledo provided legal advice. Dinsmore & Shohl in Cincinnati was legal counsel to the investor group.

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