Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

September 27, 2006

Harris buys First National Bank

The 32-branch bank purchase has a $290 million price tag

Harris Bank of Chicago announced Wednesday morning it will purchase Kokomo-based First National Bank & Trust for $290 million.

John O’Donnell, president of First National, believes the sale will be good for First National’s customers.

“Harris is a good name. It’s been in Chicago for almost 100 years. I think our customers will realize this is not the first name change and it won’t be the last one that takes place in our environment,” he said. “We like it and think it’s a good fit. Our bank is people and the customer-contact people are going to remain the same.”

The purchase of the 32-branch bank gives Harris, which is owned by BMO Financial Group of Montreal, a beachhead into what it sees as a lucrative Indianapolis market.

“This is truly a milestone event for Harris as we move toward our goal of being the leading personal and commercial community bank in the Midwest,” Ellen Costello, chief executive officer of Harris, said in a release announcing the purchase. “We are pleased to bring our customer-focused, community-based approach to the First National Bank & Trust customers. Indianapolis is the second-fastest growing market in the U.S. Midwest and, with a population of about 1.7 million, it presents wonderful opportunities as we pursue our goal of doubling in size in the next five years.

“In particular, Indianapolis is an attractive market for our small- and mid-market business banking capabilities. We have a long history of serving these customers and we believe the market will be very receptive to the experience and expertise we offer.”

In Indianapolis and its suburbs, First National has branches in Indianapolis, Noblesville, the Geist area, Plainfield and Mooresville.

O’Donnell said the banks other locations — Brazil, Logansport, Marion, Martinsville, Richmond, Sullivan, Terre Haute and Tipton — are important to Harris as well.

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