Kopernik Bank and Liberty Bank of Maryland, both mutual thrifts in Baltimore, have agreed to merge.

No money would change hands given the mutual-ownership structures involved in the deal. Depositors from both the $69 million-asset Kopernik and the $37 million-asset Liberty still must approve the transaction, Tim Prindle, Kopernik's president and chief executive, said in an interview.

A projected closing date has not yet been set, Prindle said.

Kopernik and Liberty plan to cut expenses, and that goal was a driving factor behind the merger, Prindle said. He declined to specify which areas will be cut.

Kopernik, which was founded in 1924, operates one branch in Baltimore. Liberty, established in 1885, operates two branches. All three branches would be retained by the combined institution, which will be called Kopernik Bank.

Prindle would remain president and CEO of the combined mutual. Tom O'Neill, CEO of Liberty, would become chief operating officer of the new Kopernik Bank. Gary Amereihn, the former president of Kopernik, would become chief financial officer.

Neither bank used a financial adviser on the transaction. Ober Kaler was legal counsel to Kopernik. Gordon Feinblatt was counsel to Liberty.

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