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First Financial Bank grows profit by 9.2 percent

First Financial Bank on Broadway in Crown Point.

First Financial Bank reported a profit of $24.8 million in the third quarter, a 9.2 percent year-over-year increase.

The Cincinnati-based bank, which has a large footprint in Lake County, made $0.40 per share, up from $0.37 per share the previous quarter. First Financial has made $1.16 per share for the first nine months of the year, as compared to $1.05 per share over the same period last year.

“Strong earnings, solid loan growth and a stable credit environment highlighted the third quarter, which was our 108th consecutive quarter of profitability," CEO Claude Davis said. "We are pleased with our performance improvement efforts during the quarter and believe we are well-positioned to realize the full impact of these efforts during the fourth quarter."

Locally, First Financial Bank has branches in Highland, Hammond, Schererville and Crown Point, including three locations in Highland and two in Crown Point.

First Financial has increased its profit by $6.7 million, or $10.3 percent, through the first nine months of the year. In the third quarter, the bank grew loans by 7 percent and average deposits by 6.7 percent.

The financial institution expects to grow more because of a $1 billion acquisition of Greensburg, Indiana-based MainSource Financial Group, which is undergoing regulatory review.

"We remain excited about our pending merger with MainSource Financial Group," Davis said. "Initial regulatory applications have been filed, integration planning efforts are well under way and we have made several key determinations in relation to our post-merger organizational structure and technology platform. While we continue preparing for a successful merger, our focus remains on executing our premier business bank strategy and delivering exceptional service to our clients and shareholders."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.