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Regulators approve First Defiance/United Community merger

Defiance, Ohio-based First Defiance Financial Corp. has received approval from the Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions for its acquisition of Youngstown, Ohio-based United Community Financial Corp.

Under the deal, United Community will merge with and into First Defiance, followed by the merger of Home Savings Bank with and into First Federal Bank of the Midwest.

Immediately prior to the merger, First Defiance will convert from a unitary thrift holding company to a bank holding company, and it has elected financial holding company status. First Federal Bank will convert from a federal savings association to an Ohio-chartered commercial bank.

Additionally, First Defiance's board selected the directors that will serve on the combined company's board once the merger is complete. The board will consist of 13 members, including current First Defiance chairman, John Bookmyer, serving as chairman until succession of Donald Hileman to executive chairman when he relinquishes his CEO role. Richard Schiraldi, current United Community chairman, will serve as vice chairman.

In addition to Bookmyer and Schiraldi, there will be six directors from First Defiance, namely Hileman, Terri Bettinger, Jean Hubbard, Charles Niehaus, Mark Robison and Samuel Strausbaugh, and there will be five directors from United Community, namely Marty Adams, Zahid Afzal, Louis Altman, Lee Burdman and Gary Small.

The transaction is expected to close Jan. 31, with customer account conversion planned for early third quarter.