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Freestar Bank to be Acquired by Terre Haute-based First Financial

A bank with 13 east central Illinois locations is merging with one about four times its size.

Pontiac-based Freestar Bank has agreed to be acquired by First Financial Corporation of Terre Haute, which has 51 offices in Illinois and Indiana.

Freestar President and CEO David Kuhl said its board of directors decided to expand early this year, and reached out to a Chicago investment banking firm in order to find a partner. He said First Financial was a good fit.

"Community focused in communities under 100,000 (people) primarly," he said. "Communities with university and medical (facilities), and somebody that has an agriculture orientation, because we're a fairly good-sized agricultural bank in the Pontiac-Livingston County area."

The combined banking company will mean three offices in Champaign, two in Urbana, one in Mahomet and three more in Danville, but Kuhl said more will be expected.

"We're hoping that we can continue to expand the First Financial presence throughout Central Illinois, and to locate in perhaps some communities that we're not in right now," he said.

Kuhl said the merger will have a minimal impact on employees, since the two banks don't currently have any overlapping branch locations. Combined assets between the two banks will be just under $3 billion.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of December.

Categories: Business
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