Clearing a hurdle in its unusual deal to buy a converting thrift, Emclaire Financial Corp. in Emlenton, Pa., has raised $3.46 million in a stock offering.

The $333 million-asset Emclaire sold 163,569 shares in the offering, well above the 92,435 shares required to proceed with its deal for Elk County Savings and Loan Association in Ridgway, Pa.

The shares sold for $21.15 each, a discount of about 12% from the most recent market price for Emclaire's thinly traded stock.

David L. Cox, Emclaire's chairman, president, and chief executive officer, said in a press release issued Wednesday that he is pleased with how local residents responded to the offering, "especially in light of the current national economic circumstances."

The $9.4 million-asset Elk County Savings said in June that it planned to convert from a mutual to a stock company and simultaneously sell itself to Emclaire. Such a deal is rare because regulators generally disapprove of a mutual's selling itself within three years of converting.

The deal also is structured in an unusual way, with Elk County Savings issuing its shares directly to Emclaire, which had to conduct a stock offering of its own. Elk County Savings depositors had to be given the first opportunity to buy the discounted Emclaire shares.

Emclaire expects to close the deal this month and merge Elk County Savings into its Farmers National Bank. Mr. Cox has said that only about $2 million of the amount raised would be needed as part of the Elk County Savings transaction. The additional capital is to be used to fuel Emclaire's growth.

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