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First Financial to Acquire Summit Funding Group

December 08, 2021, 07:45 AM
Filed Under: Equipment Finance News

First Financial Bancorp. announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Cincinnati, OH-based Summit Funding Group, Inc., the fourth-largest independent equipment financing platform in the United States.

"We are very excited to join forces with one of the most widely respected companies in the equipment finance sector," said First Financial President and Chief Executive Officer Archie Brown. "In combining the scale and product breadth of First Financial with Summit's leading nationwide position in the equipment finance sector, we are ideally situated to capitalize on a significant growth opportunity. As an existing banking partner of Summit, our intimate understanding of the business and management team gives us a high degree of confidence that our combined value proposition will resonate in the market."

Upon completion of the transaction, Summit will become a subsidiary of First Financial Bank, with current Summit leadership and all associates continuing in their positions, led by Founder and CEO Rick Ross. As a subsidiary, Summit will continue to operate under the name Summit Funding Group, taking advantage of the company's exceptional brand recognition within the equipment finance industry, particularly with small-to-medium sized businesses. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2021.

"With First Financial, we are joining a like-minded partner who is well-positioned to assist Summit in unlocking significant growth, while enhancing profitability through immediate funding synergies and sharing a commitment to credit performance excellence," Ross said.

The transaction is expected to be mid-single-digit accretive to First Financial's earnings per share in the first-year post-integration (2023), and low-double-digit accretive on a run-rate basis thereafter. The acquisition is consistent with First Financial's exceptional track record of strategically deploying excess capital to acquire and grow additive specialty lines of business in a disciplined manner, contributing to overall growth and delivering strong financial returns to shareholders.

Lazard served as First Financial's financial advisor on the transaction, and Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP served as legal counsel. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a Stifel Company, served as financial advisor to Summit, and Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP served as legal counsel.

First Financial Bancorp., as of Sept. 30, 2021, had $16.0 billion in assets, $9.4 billion in loans, $12.7 billion in deposits and $2.2 billion in shareholders' equity.

Summit Funding Group, Inc. was founded in 1993 and has since grown to become the fourth-largest independent U.S. equipment financing platform, operating across all 50 states and in Canada. Summit manages a portfolio with aggregate original equipment cost of approximately $1 billion and outstanding balances of approximately $500 million, across over 4,000 leases.

For more equipment finance industry news, visit Equipment Finance Advisor.

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