Huntington to acquire FirstMerit

By Brandon Klein - [email protected]

Paul Greig

Paul Greig

FirstMerit Corp., the Akron-based parent company of FirstMerit Bank, announced an acquisition agreement with Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares Inc. Tuesday.

The total transaction is valued at about $3.4 billion including outstanding options and other equity-linked securities.

The two companies have served their respective communities for 150 years or more across the Midwest. FirstMerit had 366 banking offices in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Huntington has 750 branches across six Midwestern states.

“Joining forces with Huntington will give us an opportunity to combine both companies’ commercial, small business, wealth, and consumer expertise while giving all of our customers greater access to services. We will also leverage our strong credit culture and continue our mutual tradition of community involvement to help our Midwest markets grow. We have every confidence that the integration with Huntington will be smooth and seamless for our customers and our communities, and are pleased with the commitments that Huntington has made to our employees and communities,” said Paul Greig, FirstMerit chairman, president, and chief executive officer, in a statement.

FirstMerit Bank will merge into The Huntington National Bank. Four independent members of the FirstMerit Board of Directors will join the Huntington Board, which will be expanded accordingly.

Shareholders of FirstMerit Corporation will receive 1.72 shares of Huntington common stock, and $5 in cash, for each share of FirstMerit Corporation common stock. The per share consideration is valued at $20.14 per share based on the closing price of Huntington common stock on Jan. 25.

The new company is expected to have nearly $100 billion in assets and will operate across an eight-state Midwestern footprint. The combination will create the largest bank in Ohio, based on deposit market share. Huntington will also expand its operations into the attractive new markets of Chicago and Wisconsin.

“We are very pleased to come together with FirstMerit to create a regional bank with added customer convenience, an enhanced portfolio of products for consumers and businesses, as well as strong market share. I believe the strength of this deal is that both organizations already understand the needs and goals of our Midwestern customers and communities. Our combined track records of service excellence and efficient financial management will add value for our collective shareholders, customers, communities, and colleagues,” said Steve Steinour, Huntington chairman, president and CEO.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2016.

Huntington recently posted record earnings for 2015, including a 10 percent increase in net income and a 13 percent increase in earnings per common share, driven by ongoing growth in revenues, deposits and lending.

First Merit reported a profit of $56.7 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with $61.1 million, or $0.36 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter 2014.

“Today’s announcement of the merger with Huntington Bancshares reflects a compelling and strategic opportunity to join two great companies and create enhanced value for our shareholders. Prior to the closing of the announced transaction, we will continue to focus on growing organically, increasing our loan portfolio and maintaining our balance sheet strength. As we exhibited this quarter and throughout 2015, this focus resulted in strong credit quality, core deposit growth and solid customer relationships. We plan for a smooth and seamless integration for our customers and employees,” Greig said.

FirstMerit is the sixth largest bank in Crawford County with an office located in Bucyrus, Crestline and Galion.

Paul Greig Greig

By Brandon Klein

[email protected]

Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.