January 26, 2016 / 6:00 AM / 4 years ago

Huntington Bancshares to buy FirstMerit Corp for about $3.4 billion

(Reuters) - Huntington Bancshares Inc (HBAN.O) said on Tuesday it has agreed to buy Ohio-based FirstMerit Corp FMER.O for about $3.4 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.

Huntington expects the deal, which would combine two of Ohio’s midsize banks, to add to its earnings per share in 2017, excluding one-time merger-related expenses.

The deal, which is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2016, is the latest in a string of mergers among smaller U.S. banks, spurred by years of near-zero interest rates and higher costs related to stricter regulations imposed since the financial crisis.

Huntington offered the equivalent of $20.14 per share for FirstMerit Corp - 1.72 of its own shares and $5.00 in cash, a premium of 31 percent to FirstMerit’s closing price on Monday on the Nasdaq.

FirstMerit’s stock jumped 17.1 percent to $18.00, and Huntington fell 9.3 percent to $7.98.

Under terms of the deal, FirstMerit Corp will merge with a unit of Huntington Bancshares; and FirstMerit Bank, a unit of FirstMerit Corp, will merge with and into The Huntington National Bank, Huntington said.

The pro-forma company is expected to have nearly $100 billion in assets and operate across an eight-state Midwestern footprint, Huntington said in a statement. The combination would create the largest bank in Ohio, based on deposit market share, it added.

Huntington will also expand operations into new markets of Chicago and Wisconsin, it said.

Huntington Bancshares Inc, a bank holding company, operates through its subsidiary, the Huntington National Bank. The Columbus, Ohio-based bank offers banking services, automobile financing, equipment leasing and other financial products and services.

The deal is expected to increase Huntington’s earnings per share by about 10 percent in 2018, the first full year after all expected synergies are implemented, the company said.

Goldman, Sachs & Co served as financial advisor to Huntington while Sandler O’Neill + Partners L.P. advised FirstMerit.

Reporting by Aurindom Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Sunil Nair

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