First Merchants CEO: 'Clients Benefit From Scale'

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MUNCIE -

Muncie-based First Merchants Corp. (Nasdaq: FRME) Chief Executive Officer Mike Rechin says the bank's primary growth engine continues to be organically-focused, but additional mergers and acquisitions could be another avenue for a larger footprint. First Merchants announced a $291 million deal Wednesday morning to acquire Michigan-based Monroe Bank & Trust parent MBT Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: MBTF). The bank is marking its 125th anniversary and has completed 18 acquisitions in the last 30 years.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Rechin said "our clients benefit from scale." He adds "as they increasingly want banks to deliver services through multiple channels, the larger you are -- and profitable -- allows you to reinvest in the business, so you can benefit from a larger balance sheet and larger earnings streams to invest in what your customers want. So the organic growth and the M&A activities really complement each other."

The combination, which is set to close early next year, is expected to boost First Merchants' assets to $11 billion. The merger will give the bank a presence in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois with a total of more than 130 branches. Monroe's territory, Rechin says, puts First Merchants in play in markets near Toledo and Detroit, and represents its entry into Michigan.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Rechin said "our clients benefit from scale."
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