Old Fort Banking in Tiffin, Ohio, has sold a controlling interest to its employees.

The Old Fort Employees Stock Ownership and 401(k) plan bought a 45% stake in Gillmor Financial Services, the holding company for the $471 million-asset Old Fort, according to a Friday press release. The release did not explain how the ESOP, which did not previously own share in the bank or the holding company, gained a controlling stake.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has approved the Old Fort ESOP's application to become a bank holding company. The releases also noted that the Old Fort ESOP is now valued at about $15 million.

Michael Spragg, chief executive, recommended that Old Fort explore the option of forming an ESOP to buy stock from Dianne Gillmor Krumsee, the bank's chairman and majority shareholder, who did not want to sell her stake to an outsider.

Rep. Paul Gillmor, R-Ohio, a lead supporter of legislation to limit commercially owned industrial loan companies, was a member of the family that had controlled Old Fort. He died in September 2007.

Old Fort, which was founded in 1916, has 10 branches in Ohio, including Dayton and Findlay.

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