The acquisition will move the Youngstown thrift to second place in total deposit market share in the Youngstown-Warren market.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- United Community Financial Corp., the holding company for Home Savings and Loan, has agreed to buy Potters Financial Corp. of East Liverpool in a $23.6 million deal.
UCFC will pay $22 per share for Potters Financial, the holding company for Potters Bank.
Potters operates four branches and one loan production office in Columbiana and Mahoning counties and Beaver County, Pa.
Potters has the largest deposit market share in East Liverpool, said Douglas M. McKay, president and chairman of UCFC, so the acquisition will support the Youngstown thrift's growth efforts by moving it from fourth place to second place in total deposit market share in the Youngstown-Warren area. Only Sky Financial will be larger.
"We are very impressed with Potters' performance in recent years, as well as their commitment to delivering exceptional customer service," McKay said.
Advantages: He said the union will benefit Potters' customers by giving them access to all Home Savings branches and ATM machines, as well as the company's Internet banking Web site. It's a good deal for Potters' shareholders, too -- UCFC is paying them 181 percent of the stock's book value as of June 30.
Potters has assets of $151 million, and the purchase brings UCFC's total assets to $2.1 billion.
The deal, which is subject to the approval of regulatory authorities and Potters' shareholders, is expected to close during the first quarter of 2002. UCFC shareholders won't vote on the acquisition because it is a cash transaction and does not affect the equity makeup of UCFC.
Plans are to merge Potters into the Home Savings and Loan Co., and all Potters branches will take the Home Savings name, bringing the number of Home Savings full-service branches to 33. The Youngstown-based company had 17 branches just one year ago.
Ed Baumgardner, president and chief executive of Potters, called the agreement "a win-win situation for all constituencies."
"Employees will benefit from becoming part of a larger organization that is focused on growth while still maintaining its community banking heritage," Baumgardner said.
Sue Stricklin, an UCFC spokeswoman, said the company expects to retain all or most Potter employees, especially those who have customer contact. "We think it's important for people to see familiar faces at the window," she said.
"Our customers will benefit from a broadened array of financial products and services, such as online banking and expanded lending programs."
Earlier purchase: The purchase is the second this year for UCFC. The company also completed acquisition of Industrial Bancorp Inc. of Bellevue, Ohio, in July, adding about $400 million in assets with Industrial's 12 branches in north central Ohio. Industrial branches have also been renamed, although signs won't reflect the change until November.
UCFC's subsidiaries, Home Savings and Butler Wick Corp., have also expanded over the past 18 months as part of the holding company's strategic plan.
In that period, Home Savings hired several new executives and opened three new branches in Mahoning and Trumbull counties and opened four loan origination offices in Cuyahoga, Lake, Stark and Summit counties.
Meanwhile, Butler Wick opened two new offices -- a trust office in Trumbull County and a capital markets office in Franklin County.