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Economy and Business

Profits keep rolling at Akron-based FirstMerit
Blending of its largest acquisition will continue through the year

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Akron has promised FirstMerit upgrades on the downtown plaza.
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Akron-based FirstMerit weathered the recession well and is weathering the post-recession even better. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more Tuesday’s report of 56 straight quarters of profits.

SCHULTZE: On FirstMerit's first quarter

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FirstMerit’s first quarter earnings report showed profits up 23 percent, thanks to loans and deposits.  And that’s before the bank announced its big acquisition this month of Michigan-based Citizens Republic Bancorp.

Vice President Bill Richgels told analysts in a conference call he expects the economy will continue to cooperate.

“We expect the slow-growth recovery with associated low interest rates to continue. We expect to maintain the size of the investment portfolio observed at the end of the first quarter.”

 But things will be changing. FirstMerit is putting up $912 million primarily in stock to buy Citizens Republic, and the deal will double FirstMerit’s size.   Chairman Paul Greig says the two banks will integrate throughout the year.

“We’re going to be branding everything ‘FirstMerit’ and talked about how, for the interim, we’ll be saying, ‘Citizens, now a part of FirstMerit.’ But during the summer we’ll begin a branding initiative that will go through Michigan and Wisconsin.”

The Citizen’s deal is expected to add 150 jobs to Akron, and the city has agreed to invest more than $3 million to fix up the downtown Cascade Plaza, where FirstMerit’s headquarters are. The state is also expected to put up more than $2 million in Job Creation Tax Credits.


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