Union Planters Corp. has a deal that would expand its branch network in southeastern Missouri.

The Memphis company said Thursday that it had signed a definitive agreement to buy St. Louis-based Financial Bancshares for $36.6 million in stock, or 1.52 times book value.

Financial Bancshares, with $326 million of assets, operates five separately chartered banks with 16 branches in St. Louis, Dexter, Sikeston, East Prairie, and Ste. Genevieve.

Union Planters entered Missouri last year with the purchase of Cape Girardeau-based Capital Bancorp., which had $1.1 billion of assets.

"When you consider that they already have a base for expansion in Missouri, the deal looks like it makes sense," said analyst John Coffey, with the Robinson-Humphrey Co. in Atlanta. "The price was reasonable."

The acquisition is scheduled to close in the fourth quarter.

Union Planters would strip out Financial Bancshares' four St. Louis branches and affiliate them with its Union Planters Bank of St. Louis subsidiary, which then would have six offices and $225 million of assets.

The remaining assets and branches would be joined to another Union Planters bank headquartered in Cape Giradeau. That bank would have $750 million of assets and constitute the second-largest bank charter in southeast Missouri, behind Mercantile Bank of St. Louis.

Union Planters spokesman Bill Andrews said the acquisition of Financial Bancshares is expected to be accretive to Union Planters' earnings next year. He said he could not provide any estimates of cost savings that Union Planters might extract from Financial Bancshares' expense base.

Union Planters has $11.4 billion of assets and operates 38 separately chartered banks in Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Kentucky.

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