First Federal of Northern Michigan Bancorp's agreement to buy Alpena Banking is a lesson in persistence and keeping communication lines open.

The Alpena, Mich., companies recently disclosed in regulatory documents that First Federal and Alpena considered merging three times between 2006 and 2011 — often delaying talks due to regulatory examinations — before striking a deal on their fourth effort earlier this year. First Federal in January agreed to pay $4.3 million for Alepena.

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