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First Merchants profits surge 15.6 percent in record quarter

First Merchants Bank turned a record quarterly profit of $24.4 million in the third quarter, up 15.6 percent over the $21.1 million in the third quarter of 2016.

The Muncie-based bank, which has an extensive presence in Northwest Indiana after acquiring Citizens Financial Bank in Munster in 2013, earned $0.50 per share in the third quarter. First Merchants has made $71.7 million during the first nine months of the year, up from $58.8 million during the same period in 2016.

“First Merchants achieved outstanding financial results in a special quarter for our clients, teammates and shareholders," President and Chief Executive Officer Michael C. Rechin said. "We had several accomplishments to include building the First Merchants franchise, adding capital strength and growing earnings power.

"The addition of Independent Alliance Bank into First Merchants establishes a significant presence in the Fort Wayne market driven by strong local management. Our organic balance sheet growth throughout the company demonstrates our commitment to our vibrant and growing communities. When coupled with a wider net interest margin, the company produced record net interest income.”

After acquiring Citizens Financial Bank for $140 million, First Merchants has more than a dozen local branches, including in St. John, Schererville, Munster, Hammond, Highland, Hegewisch, South Holland, Flossmoor, Crown Point, Merrillville, Valparaiso and DeMotte, East Chicago, Dyer and Harvey.

The bank now has total assets of $9 billion and grew its loans to a record $6.5 billion last quarter. Deposits also rose by 26.9 percent in the third quarter to a record $6.9 billion.

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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.