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Forbes named First Merchants second best bank in country

First Merchants Bank, the successor to Munster-based Citizens Financial Bank, was named the second best bank in the country by Forbes magazine.

Muncie-based First Merchants, which operates 18 branches in Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois, was recognized for its growth, asset quality, capital adequacy and profitability.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement as it speaks to the financial strength of First Merchants' clients and vitality of the communities we serve,” First Merchants CEO Michael Rechin said. “We are successful when our clients are successful, and every single one our 1,700 employees plays a key role in making that happen. My teammates deserve all the credit.”

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First Merchants is the second largest bank in Indiana with $9.8 billion in assets. It entered the Northwest Indiana market with a splash in 2013 when it acquired Citizens Financial. Forbes ranked it as the fourth best bank in the nation last year, looking at metrics that included "return on average tangible equity, return on average assets, net interest margin, efficiency ratio and net charge-offs as a percent of total loans."

"The $10 billion bank ranked strongly across the board, including return on average assets (1.5 percent) and ROATCE (17.4 percent)," Forbes reporter Kurt Badenhausen wrote. "Its reserves are nearly four times its total nonperforming loans."

Locally, First Merchants has branches in Munster, Highland, Merrillville, Schererville, Dyer, Demotte, East Chicago, St. John, Crown Point, Hammond, South Holland, Valparaiso, Hegewisch, Harvey, Flossmoor, and Tinley Park.

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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.