More than two years after getting into Lake County, Ohio, a Pennsylvania community bank is pulling out.

First Western Bank, New Castle, said it would sell three Ohio branches to FirstMerit Corp., Akron.

The branches will become part of FirstMerit Peoples Bank, Mentor, a subsidiary of the $5.3 billion-asset holding company. The acquisition would add $49 million of deposits to the $365 million-asset FirstMerit Peoples Bank.

Stephen R. Sant, president and chief executive officer of $1.7 billion- asset First Western, said the branches are being sold because the bank did not have enough market share in the county to compete.

"By selling these offices in Lake County," he said, "we can redirect resources to areas where our presence is stronger."

First Western bought the Lake County branches more than two years ago. Mr. Sant said the bank had hoped to expand beyond its 2% market share in the county but was not successful.

First Western will retain its five branches in Ashtabula County, Ohio, now its only out-of-state presence.

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