Huntington to Buy Akron-based FirstMerit; branches to close

Huntington to Buy Akron-based FirstMerit; branches to close

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares said Tuesday that it will merge with Akron-based FirstMerit Corporation in a $3.4 billion deal. Under the terms of the agreement, FirstMerit Bank will merge with and into The Huntington National Bank.

The merger will result in meaningful branch consolidation, according to Huntington CEO Steven Steinour and Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Howell McCullough.

McCullough mentioned in a conference call on Tuesday that 39 percent of the merged banks branches are within a mile of each other. Consolidation decisions at this point have not been made but there will be closures of both Huntington and FirstMerit branches as it's determined what facility best serves the neighborhood in which the branches are located.

Layoffs are expected at FirstMerit, Steinour told the Akron Beacon Journal. He is expected to be at the FirstMerit headquarters in Akron today and meet in the afternoon with Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.

There was no immediate word on what will happen to the FirstMerit name on the Cleveland Convention Center downtown.

That said, the executives stressed that Huntington is a people business and that customer service matters, so they plan to take a minimally disruptive stance.

The combined company will create the largest bank in Ohio by deposits, a new release stated. It will have nearly $100 billion in assets.

"We have every confidence that the integration with Huntington will be smooth and seamless for our customers and our communities, and are pleased with the commitments that Huntington has made to our employees and communities," said Paul Greig, FirstMerit chairman, president, and CEO.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2016.

Huntington recently posted record earnings for 2015, including a 10 percent increase in net income and a 13 percent increase in earnings per common share, driven by ongoing growth in revenues, deposits, and lending. FirstMerit today announced their 67th consecutive quarter of profitability, reflecting strong organic loan growth and continued balance sheet strength

FirstMerit shareholders are to receive 1.72 shares of Huntington common stock and $5 in cash for each share that they own.

Huntington said it would expand into Chicago and Wisconsin.

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