First Financial Acquires Summit Funding Group

First Financial Bancorp entered into an agreement to acquire Summit Funding Group, a Cincinnati-based equipment finance company.

“We are very excited to join forces with one of the most widely respected companies in the equipment finance sector,” Archie Brown, president and CEO of First Financial, said. “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 Funding Group will become a subsidiary of First Financial Bank, with current Summit Funding Group leadership and all associates continuing in their positions, led by founder and CEO Rick Ross. As a subsidiary, Summit Funding Group will continue to operate under the name Summit Funding Group. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in Q4/21.

“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.

Lazard served as First Financial’s financial advisor on the transaction, and Squire Patton Boggs served as its legal counsel. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods served as financial advisor to Summit Funding Group, and Taft Stettinius & Hollister served as its legal counsel.

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