Chemical deal set to close this week

The biggest acquisition in Chemical Financial Corp.’s history is expected to close Wednesday, making the Midland-based bank the largest bank headquartered in Michigan.

The $1.4 billion acquisition of Troy-based Talmer Bancorp Inc. gives Chemical Financial roughly $16 billion in assets, a foothold in the southeast Michigan and northeast Ohio markets and about 246 total locations when all is said and done. But when the dust on the merger settles, Chemical won’t be standing pat for long.

“Strategically, we want to continue to grow in a combination of organic and acquisitive opportunities,” said David Ramaker, Chemical chairman, president and CEO. “We feel that we’re positioned extremely well in Michigan and, with opportunities in northeast Ohio to grow and offer our services in those regions and augmenting, that will be some additional growth from an acquisition standpoint.

“Post-integration, it’s our intent to be as active as we have been in that marketplace over the past couple years.”

Since 2010, Chemical has acquired Lake Michigan Financial Corp., Monarch Community Bancorp, Northwestern Bancorp and OAK Financial Corp, but the $1.4 billion acquisition of Talmer, which brings about $6.6 billion in assets, is by far the largest deal in Chemical’s history.

If the deal closes Wednesday, assuming the terms of customary closing conditions are met, Talmer will become a subsidiary of Chemical Bank. The merger received regulatory approval from the Federal Reserve Board earlier this month.

Talmer will continue to operate as a subsidiary until about mid-November, when Talmer’s data and operational systems will be converted to Chemical’s, and the signage on all of Talmer’s locations will switch over. Seven Talmer locations will be closed or consolidated due to their proximity to existing Chemical Bank locations, but other than those seven branches, there is no market overlap.

Ramaker expects the November conversion, set to take place Nov. 10-12, to go smoothly as both Chemical and Talmer have had previous experience in doing so. He said Chemical has undergone between 25 and 30 data conversions in its history, and Talmer has completed about eight or nine.

“We’ll be providing our customer base with a very detailed roadmap of how the conversion will work and how it will affect them,” he said.

Ramaker said the deal gives Chemical about 6 percent of the deposit market share in the state of Michigan, and there is “significant upside potential” given the resources the bank will have at its disposal. Still, one of the factors that made Talmer such an attractive acquisition target for Chemical is the former’s shared commitment to community banking, a philosophy Ramaker said will not change in the wake of the merger.

“It’s very rare that you’ll see a bank of our size be able to provide these types of services and do it in a very personalized approach,” Ramaker said. “But that’s our operating philosophy, and that’s how we’re continuing to organize the company going forward. That creates a niche for ourselves in the market.”

To facilitate this, Chemical will divvy up seven regions in its new footprint and assign 23 community bank markets within those regions, overseen by a community president and local advisory board.

Ramaker said the bank will continue to play an active role in each of the communities it serves, whether that’s through providing loans to small businesses, assisting municipalities, purchasing bonds or serving on the boards of nonprofits.

“We think all those things facilitate the growth of the market,” he said. “And if we’re positioned appropriately, we’re going to benefit from that as well. We tend to have more (of) an attitude about how we can help develop the market, rather than how we look at every deal and the profit that’s associated with it.”

As the anticipated closing date nears, Ramaker said he is anxious to cross the finish line on a merger that was announced about eight months ago and to begin to move forward with the integration of the two banks.

“I truly believe what we’re creating will generate significant benefits in the markets that we operate in,” he said. “We’re very confident that in doing this, we’re creating the pre-eminent Midwest community bank.”

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