After resisting shareholders' pressure to sell for years, Jefferson Savings Bancorp apparently plans to test the market.

The $1.6 billion-asset St. Louis thrift recently said it had hired an unidentified investment banking firm to "evaluate its strategic alternatives." David V. McCay, chairman and chief executive officer of Jefferson, did not return phone calls seeking comment on the Jan. 31 announcement. Jefferson, parent of Jefferson Heritage Bank, operates 41 branches, mostly in Missouri and Texas.

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