MutualFirst Financial in Muncie, Ind., is facing a proxy battle from two of its investors.

Ancora Catalyst Fund and Merlin Partners said in a regulatory filing that they have nominated Thomas Coley Brady and Timothy McMeekan to join the $1.4 billion-asset company's board. The shareholders collectively control about 4.6% of MutualFirst's common stock.

Ancora added in a letter attached to the filing that it wants MutualFirst to consider strategic alternatives, including the possible sale to a larger bank with a higher valued stock. "Ancora recognizes that MutualFirst walks a delicate line between its thrift origins and growing into a commercial bank," Fred DiSanto, Ancora's chief executive, wrote in the letter.

MutualFirst CEO David Heeter has "directly acknowledged that loan growth in the company's core Muncie markets could be challenging," DiSanto added. "We urge MutualFirst to proceed cautiously if it determines to pursue acquisitions to achieve growth, as this is a high-risk approach."

Brady is vice president of sales of Heartland RV, an Elkhart, Ind., company that manufactures and sells conventional travel trailers. McMeekan is a former chief executive of Kenra Professional, a consumer products company in Indianapolis. Both nominees have accounting degrees.

MutualFirst's annual meeting will be held on May 1.

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