Construction equipment on a dirt field
Construction equipment on a dirt field

First Financial to Acquire Summit Funding Group

Cincinnati, OH – December 7, 2021 – First Financial Bancorp. (Nasdaq: FFBC) (“First Financial”) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Cincinnati-based Summit Funding Group, Inc. (“Summit”), the fourth largest independent equipment financing platform in the United States.

Summit Funding Group logo on white background
Summit Funding Group logo on white background

"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.

Foward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this report that are not statements of historical fact constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ''believes,'' ''anticipates,'' "likely," "expected," "estimated," ''intends'' and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements but are not the exclusive means of identifying such statements. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements we make about (i) our future operating or financial performance, including revenues, income or loss and earnings or loss per share, (ii) future common stock dividends, (iii) our capital structure, including future capital levels, (iv) our plans, objectives and strategies, and (v) the assumptions that underlie our forward-looking statements.

As with any forecast or projection, forward-looking statements are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that may cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts but instead express only management's beliefs regarding future results or events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of management's control. It is possible that actual results and outcomes will differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results or outcomes indicated in these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in our forward-looking statements include the following, without limitation:

  • economic, market, liquidity, credit, interest rate, operational and technological risks associated with First Financial’s business;
  • future credit quality and performance, including our expectations regarding future loan losses and our allowance for credit losses;
  • the effect of and changes in policies and laws or regulatory agencies, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and other legislation and regulation relating to the banking industry;
  • Management's ability to effectively execute its business plans;
  • mergers and acquisitions, including costs or difficulties related to the integration of acquired companies;
  • the possibility that any of the anticipated benefits of First Financial’s acquisitions will not be realized or will not be realized within the expected time period;
  • the effect of changes in accounting policies and practices;
  • changes in consumer spending, borrowing and saving and changes in unemployment;
  • changes in customers' performance and creditworthiness;
  • the costs and effects of litigation and of unexpected or adverse outcomes in such litigation;
  • current and future economic and market conditions, including the effects of declines in housing prices, high unemployment rates, U.S. fiscal debt, budget and tax matters, geopolitical matters, and any slowdown in global economic growth;
  • the adverse impact on the U.S. economy, including the markets in which we operate, of the novel coronavirus, which causes the Coronavirus disease 2019 global pandemic, and the impact of a slowing U.S. economy and increased unemployment on the performance of our loan and lease portfolio, the market value of our investment securities, the availability of sources of funding and the demand for our products;
  • our capital and liquidity requirements (including under regulatory capital standards, such as the Basel III capital standards) and our ability to generate capital internally or raise capital on favorable terms;
  • financial services reform and other current, pending or future legislation or regulation that could have a negative effect on our revenue and businesses, including the Dodd-Frank Act and other legislation and regulation relating to bank products and services;
  • the effect of the current interest rate environment or changes in interest rates or in the level or composition of our assets or liabilities on our net interest income, net interest margin and our mortgage originations, mortgage servicing rights and mortgage loans held for sale;
  • the effect of a fall in stock market prices on our brokerage, asset and wealth management businesses;
  • a failure in or breach of our operational or security systems or infrastructure, or those of our third-party vendors or other service providers, including as a result of cyber attacks;
  • the effect of changes in the level of checking or savings account deposits on our funding costs and net interest margin; and
  • our ability to develop and execute effective business plans and strategies.

Additional factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those described in our forward-looking statements can be found in our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, as well as our other filings with the SEC, which are available on the SEC website at

All forward-looking statements included in this filing are made as of the date hereof and are based on information available at the time of the filing. Except as required by law, First Financial does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statement.

About First Financial Bancorp.

First Financial Bancorp. is a Cincinnati, Ohio based bank holding company. As of September 30, 2021, the Company had $16.0 billion in assets, $9.4 billion in loans, $12.7 billion in deposits and $2.2 billion in shareholders' equity. The Company's subsidiary, First Financial Bank, founded in 1863, provides banking and financial services products through its six lines of business: Commercial, Retail Banking, Investment Commercial Real Estate, Mortgage Banking, Commercial Finance and Wealth Management. These business units provide traditional banking services to business and retail clients. Wealth Management provides wealth planning, portfolio management, trust and estate, brokerage and retirement plan services and had approximately $3.2 billion in assets under management as of September 30, 2021. The Company operated 139 full service banking centers as of September 30, 2021, primarily in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois, while the Commercial Finance business lends into targeted industry verticals on a nationwide basis. Additional information about the Company, including its products, services and banking locations, is available at

About Summit Funding Group

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 originates high-quality equipment leases, through its national reputation for integrity, unparalleled equipment knowledge and superior customer service. Summit has also developed long-standing relationships with original equipment manufacturers, vendors and end users, resulting in high quality, repeatable origination volumes. Throughout the U.S., Summit is known for its diversified and nimble platform, which allows it to finance a variety of equipment types across various financing structures. Currently, 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.

The information on this page is accurate as of December 2021 and is subject to change. First Financial Bank is not affiliated with any third-parties or third-party websites mentioned above. Any reference to any person, organization, activity, product, and/or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement. By clicking on a third-party link, you acknowledge you are leaving First Financial Bank is not responsible for the content or security of any linked web page. Member FDIC / Equal Housing Lender.


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