Pikeville National Corp. of Pikeville, Ky., will acquire three banks in the central and eastern parts of the state by the first quarter of 1995, making it among the largest holding companies based in Kentucky.

The bank, in the state's coal fields about 20 miles from the Virginia border, announced this week it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Woodford Bancorp of Versailles, 15 miles west of Lexington.

"We're in the hunt," said Terry Coleman, chief operating officer of Pikeville. "We're back on the acquisition trail. We hope to continue to gain market share through more acquisitions in the next few years."

Last week's announcement came just eight days after Pikeville said it had entered into a letter of intent to acquire the Commercial Bank, a $95 million-asset bank in Middlesboro, in the southeastern corner of the state.

It had also just recently announced its intention to acquire $60 million-asset Community Bank of Lexington.

"All three of these fit into the geographic parameters we've established," Mr. Coleman said. "This is a good growth area, and we hope to benefit from that."

After the three acquisitions, Pikeville's assets will grow from its current $1.4 billion to approximately $1.75 billion, placing it neck and neck with Trans Financial Bancorp of. Bowling Green as the largest Kentucky-based holding company, Mr. Coleman said.

These latest moves signal a renewed aggressiveness in the. acquisition game for Pikeville, which owns eight banks in the area. After growing rapidly in the late-1980s and early-1990s, the bank took a breather after 1991 to consolidate its holdings, Mr. Coleman said. That break has obviously come to an end.

"Our short-term strategy is to reach $2 billion [in assets] by the beginning of 1997," Mr. Coleman said.

The purchase of Woodford Bancorp Inc. and its $110 million-asset subsidiary, Woodford Bank & Trust Co., will be a stock-for-stock transaction valued at $22 million. Approximately 900,000 shares of Pikeville stock will be exchanged for 43,000 shares of Woodford stock, Mr. Coleman said.

The Community Bank of Lexington acquisition also will be a stock transaction. The deal, valued at $9.25 million, will exchange 350,000 shares of Pikeville stock for 160,000 of Community's, according to Mr. Coleman.

As for the purchase of the Commercial Bank in Middlesboro, Mr. Coleman would not disclose the terms because Commercial is a privately-owned bank.

It will be a cash transaction, he said.

The expansion into the Lexington market was a "natural extension" for Pikeville because it already owns a loan office there, Mr. Coleman said.

Pikeville will bring additional services to its new Lexington bank, including investment products and expanded commercial lending capabilities, he added.

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