CHICAGO -- St. Paul Bancorp said it completed a definitive agreement to acquire Elm Financial Services Inc. and merge their respective subsidiaries, St. Paul Federal Bank for Savings and Elmhurst Federal Savings Bank.

By terms of the transaction, which is expected to be completed in early 1993, each Elm share will be exchanged for $12.35 in cash and $10.10 in St. Paul Bancorp common stock, for an aggregate price of $49 million.

St. Paul, the largest thrift company in Chicago, with $3.5 billion in assets and 38 retail offices said it expects to cut costs substantially because of the deal's in-market nature. Elm has $387 million in assets and eight thrift branches.

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