First Merchants Logs Record Quarter in Anniversary Year

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The positive developments continue for Muncie-based First Merchants Corp. (Nasdaq: FRME) during a landmark anniversary year. The 125-year-old bank is reporting record second quarter net income of $39.6 million, overtaking the previous Q2 high mark of $24.1 million last year. During a call Thursday with investors, Chief Executive Officer Mike Rechin said the company is nearing the $10 billion total asset mark, a threshold that could be crossed next year.

The bank has made 18 acquisitions in 30 years -- two of which became fully-integrated during the quarter -- and Rechin says conversations about additional merger and acquisition activity are increasing. He says recent regulatory changes have helped larger banks grow, which is now trickling down to smaller institutions throughout the Midwest, "and yet, our posture toward (M&A possibilities) stays the same." He continued "we like the Midwest quite a bit. We like digestible opportunities that would somewhat lever our brand knowledge, the talent of our folks, our knowledge of the kind of customer behavior you get in those geographies. So, I don't think our view has changed, but I do think -- as you get this deep into the credit cycle -- that there are more discussions about where people are and what their futures might hold for them."

During an interview in February on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Rechin talked about the company's continued emphasis on what he says is organic growth within existing markets. First Merchants recently detailed a growing presence in northeast Indiana, including a regional headquarters in the high-profile Skyline Tower space in downtown Fort Wayne and the additions of Grabill Bank and Markle Bank's footprint when First Merchants acquired Independent Alliance Banks Inc. in 2017. Rechin said his institution will continue to invest in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana during a "special time" for the city:

First Merchants has more than 120 locations in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.

The bank has made 18 acquisitions in 30 years -- two of which became fully-integrated during the quarter -- and First Merchants Chief Executive Officer Mike Rechin says conversations about additional merger and acquisition activity are increasing.
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