Converse-based First Farmers Financial Corp. has announced agreements to acquire three community banks in Illinois. The deals are expected to close early next year. October 1, 2014

News Release

CONVERSE, Ind. – First Farmers Financial Corporation, holding company of First Farmers Bank & Trust, announced today that they have entered into Agreements and Plans of Merger to acquire 100 percent of the stock of three community banks in Illinois. Under the terms of the agreements, First Farmers Bank & Trust will acquire Community Bank, Hoopeston, Illinois, United Community Bank, Oakwood, Illinois, and First National Bank of Chrisman, Chrisman, Illinois, from their respective holding companies. Each bank will be merged into First Farmers Bank & Trust as part of the transactions.

First Farmers Bank & Trust is a regional leader in agricultural and community banking in the Midwest. At June 30, 2014, First Farmers had $1.2 billion in assets and operated 27 community bank branches in Indiana and Illinois. The combined assets of the banks are currently $165 million and the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015, subject to regulatory approval and other customary conditions.

Gene Miles, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Farmers stated, “These agreements are representative of our goal to uphold the traditional values of rural and Ag community banking in the Midwest and to continue a business model that has served us since 1885. We've served a variety of businesses and individuals within the Ag industry and outside of the Ag industry. The one constant has been that we excel at serving semi-rural markets. All of these organizations serve areas very similar to those where we have built a significant customer base. Our organization has extended our geographical reach, but our commitment to community banking is what has allowed our organization to prosper.”

Jerry Harper, President of United Community Bank with branches in Oakwood and Danville, IL, stated “It has become more challenging to successfully run a small, independent community bank. I am excited to be joining a larger organization that shares our commitment to community banking and recognizes the importance of local relationships.”

Community Bank operates two locations in Hoopeston, IL. “First Farmers' expertise in Ag lending and their strength in communities very similar to ours will bring a new depth of offering and expertise to our customers.” Bill Nicholls, President.

Connie Stultz, President of First National Bank of Chrisman stated, “Our commitment to our community runs deep and that won’t change. I am excited about the ability to offer our customers new services like equipment leasing, direct deposit, and mobile banking.”

In connection with this transaction, Whitley A. Cummings of Cummings & Cummings, LLC acted as financial advisor, and Hunton & Williams LLP served as legal counsel to First Farmers Financial Corp. Joe Hemker of Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC, served as legal counsel to Wellington Bancorp, Inc., Oakwood Bancorp, Inc., and Chrisman Bancorp, Inc. and Steve Hovde of Hovde Financial served as financial consultant.

Source: First Farmers Financial Corp.

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