Mercantile Bancorp Inc. is shedding half its banks in a series of deals that illustrates the financial contortions some companies need to survive the recession.

The Quincy, Ill., company announced Monday that it had agreed to sell Brown County State Bank in Mount Sterling, Ill., and Marine Bank and Trust in Carthage, Ill., for $25.6 million, or 1.1 times their tangible book value. The buyer is the $850 million-asset United Community Bancorp Inc. in Chatham, Ill., which has been eyeing acquisition candidates in new markets.

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