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First National Bank sold to DB&T parent
3 Grant County offices stay open
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First National Bank in Platteville is being acquired by a subsidiary of the parent company of Dubuque Bank & Trust.

Heartland Financial USA is purchasing First National’s parent company, First Shares, Inc., for about $11 million, about 60 percent in Heartland stock and 40 percent in cash.

First National Bank, which has offices in Platteville, Lancaster and Hazel Green, will become part of Heartland’s Wisconsin Bank & Trust, which is based in Madison. The transaction is expected to be completed Nov. 16 if First Shares stockholders approve the sale.

“This is a perfect fill-in for Wisconsin Bank & Trust with our main office in Madison, and with our largest office in Monroe,” said Thomas J. Wilkinson, WB&T’s chairman and CEO. “We are attracted to Platteville as an education center with the University of Wisconsin–Platteville and as a medical center with Southwest Health Center headquartered there. Additionally, Platteville serves a robust agricultural market in southwest Wisconsin.”

“The unique thing about Heartland is each bank can have its own niches,” said Kevin S. Tenpas, Wisconsin Bank & Trust’s president. “Our primary niche is commercial and agricultural banking, which we’ve been pretty successful on.

“I think it’s a good fit because we’re 20 minutes from Dubuque and 60 miles from Madison.”

First National, incorporated in 1891, is one of the state’s first national banks. It has assets of about $130 million, loans of $88 million, and deposits of $114 million as of June 30.

“Our board views this merger as an excellent move for the customers of First National Bank,” said Dale Kretschmar, First National’s president and CEO. “As we considered our strategic direction, including the importance of identifying a potential quality merger partner, Heartland stood out as an excellent fit.  We are very pleased to partner with a strong community banking company that is committed to face-to-face customer service and locally based banking that will continue our long tradition of strong community support.”

Heartland Financial, based in Dubuque, owns Dubuque Bank & Trust, Citizens Finance in Dubuque, Galena State Bank,
Riverside Community Bank in Rockford, Ill., First Community Bank in Keokuk, Iowa, Wisconsin Community Bank in Madison, Heartland Business Bank in De Pere, Minnesota Bank & Trust in Edina, Minn., and banks in Arizona, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico. Heartland also owns National Residential, a mortgage lending business based at Heartland banks.

Wisconsin Community Bank and Heartland Business Bank will be renamed Wisconsin Bank & Trust Sept. 8.
WB&T made $8.1 million in profit in Wisconsin in 2011, Tenpas said. The bank has $500 million in Wisconsin assets.

First National Bank has 40 employees at its three locations. Wilkinson said all three locations will stay open. Heartland has 400 employees and 180 job vacancies, 40 of them at DB&T. The company also expects its mortgage subsidiary to hire up to 50 people within the next two years.

“Over the last year, our customer contacts in all our offices have increased 3 percent,” said Wilkinson. “From the perspective of the Platteville employees, they’re going to have opportunities to expand their knowledge base in terms of how they serve customers. We’d like to think that we can keep all those people employed. Obviously we have to look at any duplication there.”

Wilkinson said customers will see expanded services “that only larger banks can offer — the larger you are, if you have the will to offer these services, there are some fantastic products out there.”

One example is mobile banking, the ability to access accounts from smartphones and tablets.

“The opportunities for customer service and products is huge right now, and we’re stepping up in a big way,” said Wilkinson.

 “Since its founding in 1891, First National has proudly served the people of southwestern Wisconsin with personal service and community leadership,” said Kretschmar. “Wisconsin Bank & Trust is built on the same principles. We are certain that our customers and communities will see many similarities once the merger is completed. At the same time, they will have access to a wider menu of financial services and enhanced technology.”