Home Savings Merger to Be Completed Jan. 31

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The creation of the new entity resulting from the merger of United Community Financial Corp. and First Defiance Financial Corp. is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

“We’re expecting to do the legal entity close on Jan. 31, which was always our goal date. Most folks around the Valley won’t notice anything happening then,” says Gary M. Small, president and CEO of UCFC, the holding company for Home Savings Bank. “There will be some slight changes on the 31st, like a document might have a temporary name on it.”

The big changes – such as new signage or a new name for the combined bank – won’t be seen by consumers until summertime.

“We’re about five months into a 10-month process,” Small says. “[The closing] does cement that the deal is done.”

While UCFC operates Home Savings Bank, First Defiance operates First Federal Bank of the Midwest. The companies announced their merger Sept. 9, and set the value of the all-stock transaction at $473 million. When the merger was announced, they said a new name would be jointly chosen before the deal closed.

First Defiance operates branches and affiliates in northwestern Ohio, northeastern Indiana and southwestern Michigan. The two organizations “really have northern Ohio covered with our combined franchises” and “complimentary geography,” Small said in September.

“There’s really no branch overlaps, but we do benefit from similarities in the types of markets we serve,” he continued.

Banking operations for the combined entity will be headquartered in Youngstown, and staff at both banks will remain largely intact, according to Small. However, the headquarters of the new holding company will be based in Defiance, about 60 miles southwest of Toledo.

“While there’s always moving around of roles when you bring entities together, we’ve left a substantial amount of the organization intact to continue doing what it has been doing in the Valley. It’s the same if you go to the western part of the state,” he says. “As we build and get larger, this will be where we’ll house people to support the activities around the state. There’s been no change in approach.”

The new financial institution will operate 77 branches and will have combined assets of $6.1 billion,  gross loans of $5 billion and deposits of $4.9 billion

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.