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Peoples State Bank buying FirstMerit Bank offices
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The second purchase of Southwest Wisconsin banks of the year was announced last week.

Peoples State Bank of Prairie du Chien is purchasing FirstMerit Bank’s branches in Lancaster, Fennimore, Dickeyville and Potosi.

The sale is expected to close in July pending regulatory approval.

“We really appreciate the opportunity to work with FirstMerit Bank on this acquisition and are extremely excited about increasing our bank’s presence in Grant County,” said Peoples State Bank president Mark W. Forsythe. “Our bank’s history of service in Southwest Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa is a great story and we are anxious to begin meeting and working with the farmers, businesses and residents of Lancaster, Fennimore, Dickeyville, and Potosi to write another chapter.”

“We expect the transaction to be seamless for customers,” said Jim Brocklehurst, FirstMerit executive vice president of retail banking. “Peoples State Bank’s dedication to customers and the community is impressive and this transaction provides a great opportunity for a local southwest Wisconsin bank to make a positive impact on the area.”

Peoples State Bank, which is locally owned, now has $647 million in assets and 15 offices in Crawford, Grant and Vernon counties and Clayton County, Iowa. Grant County locations include Bagley, Bloomington, Boscobel, Glen Haven, Mount Hope and Patch Grove.

FirstMerit, based in Akron, Ohio, has $25.5 billion in assets and 366 offices in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania. FirstMerit’s other Wisconsin offices are in the northeastern part of the state.

FirstMerit came into Wisconsin by purchasing Citizens Banking Corporation in 2012, one year after Citizens had difficulty repaying a $300 million loan from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program following the 2008 recession. Citizens came into Southwest Wisconsin by purchasing F&M Bancorporation in 1999.

The Peoples purchase is the second major area bank transaction announced this year. Boscobel Bancorp Inc., the holding company of Community First Bank, and Rural Bankshares of Wisconsin, Inc., the holding company of Livingston State Bank, announced “a merger of equals” in late February. Livingston State Bank locations in Livingston and Platteville will be merging into Community First, which has locations in Boscobel, Muscoda, Richland Center, Reedsburg and Baraboo, in the second half of this year.