MUNCIE - Muncie-based MutualFirst Financial Inc. (Nasdaq: MFSF) has announced plans to acquire Universal Bancorp Inc. in Bloomfield. The parent of MutualBank says the deal, valued at more than $65 million in cash and stock, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

Universal is the parent of BloomBank which, upon closing of the acquisition, will be integrated into the MutualBank brand. MutualFirst says the deal will increase its number of branches to 40 and the combined company will have $2 billion in total assets.

"Merging with Universal is a very beneficial transaction that will enable us to increase the value of the franchise for the benefit of our shareholders," said Dave Heeter, chief executive officer of MutualFirst. "We will continue to pursue all strategies available to maintain and improve financial performance in order to maximize shareholder value."

The deal still requires Universal shareholder and other regulatory approvals. Per the terms of the agreement, Universal shareholders will receive 15.6 shares of MutualFirst common stock plus $250 in cash for each share of Universal common stock they own.

The boards of directors for both banks have approved the acquisition.