WARREN - If a proposed sale of First Place Bank to Troy, Mich.-based Talmer Bancorp. Inc. goes through, First Place's name will stay in place and the community feel of its 41 retail locations also should remain, officials at both companies vowed Tuesday.
''It's always about community and community focus, that's what our bankers do,'' Talmer Chief Marketing Officer Shellie Maitre said Tuesday.
''One of the things that was so attractive to Talmer is that they don't have a footprint in Ohio, and they really value their position as a community bank,'' First Place spokeswoman Debra Bish said.
A purchase agreement was announced Monday for Talmer and Warren-based First Place Bank.
Also Monday the Warren bank's holding company, First Place Financial Corp., filed for federal bankruptcy protection, blaming the current financial and credit crisis that resulted in hundreds of nationwide bank failures since 2008.
An affidavit filed in bankruptcy court in Delaware by First Place's Chief Financial Officer, David W. Gifford, says the corporation's primary creditors collectively are owed $62 million.
Based in Troy, Mich.
Assets of $2.2 billion
45 banking offices in Michigan and Wisconsin
Based in Warren
Assets of $2.6 billion
41 retail locations, with business financial service centers and 20 loan production offices.
Sources: Court filings; Talmer and First Place Banks
''The bank's excessive levels of adversely classified assets and inability to raise necessary additional capital have been major causes of increased scrutiny and action by the regulators," Gifford said in the court filing.
According to the court filing, the company was ordered by federal regulators to reach specific capital levels by Dec. 31, 2011, or face voluntary dissolution or merge with another financial institution.
Gifford said when the bank was unable to meet the regulators' requirements, officials in June began an intensified process to market the bank. During that process, Talmer emerged as the only financial institution from 44 targeted companies willing to acquire the bank's entire franchise.
If the sale is approved, it would ''recapitalize the bank, ensure regulatory compliance, maximize the value available for First Place's creditors, preserve hundreds of jobs and save banking regulators millions of dollars,'' Gifford wrote. It also would continue to serve the needs of thousands of bank customers.
First Place, one of a handful of locally operated financial institutions, was once the area's largest local institution.
The proposed purchase price is $45 million with promises to recapitalize the bank at a cost of about $205 million.
Regulators have raised no objections to the bankruptcy filing nor the sale, Gifford said in the court document. A message left seeking comment at the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned Tuesday.
The word "Talmer" comes from the combinations of the names of the grandfathers of two top bank officials, President and CEO David T. Provost (Talmage) and Chairman Gary Torgow (Merzon).
''We changed our name in April 2011," Maitre said.
It had been formed in 2007 as a small commercial-lending bank that has expanded through ''controlled growth'' so as not to lose the community touch, she said. It now employs about 800 people, she said.
Talmer Bancorp.'s assets are listed at $2.2 billion by the Federal Reserve System. By comparison, First Place Bank's assets are listed at $2.6 billion.
If the acquisition of First Place is approved, the company plans to maintain the First Place name on those properties, and plans to maintain the current employees if possible, Maitre said.
''It's an area that we don't have any banking centers, and that is a good fit,'' Maitre said.
Ultimately, the federal bankruptcy court will make the final decision on whether to approve the deal. Other banking institutions may offer bids before the final decision is made. The process is expected to take 60 to 90 days, Bish said.