End of an era: Citizens Financial to become First Merchants this weekend

2014-02-23T13:00:00Z 2014-07-02T18:09:16Z End of an era: Citizens Financial to become First Merchants this weekendJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com
February 23, 2014 1:00 pm  • 

A name in Northwest Indiana banking for the last 80 years will vanish from the landscape this weekend, while a new one will come to town.

Signs will be changed over the weekend at 20 Citizens Financial Bank branches in Northwest Indiana and Chicago's south suburbs on the Illinois side of the border. They will reopen as First Merchants bank branches on Monday.

The change has been coming since Muncie-based First Merchants, the second-largest bank headquartered in Indiana, announced it would buy Citizens Financial for $114.7 million in May. The combined bank has about $5.5 billion in total assets and close to 100 locations in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.

An integration of the 12 Citizens Financial branches in Northwest Indiana and eight in Illinois has been ongoing since the merger was finalized in November. The name was not changed until now, to give customers time to adjust.

First Merchants is keeping Citizens Financial's management, tellers and commercial bankers. More than 80 employees in operations, information technology and other back office support roles were laid off because First Merchants already had employees doing their jobs.

Citizens Financial is just the latest community bank to be swallowed up in a merger, as a wave of consolidations has swept through the banking industry nationally. in total, 13 community banks were headquartered in Lake County a decade ago, but that number has decreased to six.

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