A branch of the First Financial Bank in downtown Highland is pictured.

Joseph S. Pete

First Financial Bank plans to acquire Cincinnati-based Summit Funding Group, Inc., which is the nation’s fourth-largest equipment finance platform, for $ 121 million in cash and stocks.

First Financial, based in Cincinnati, has several branches in Northwest Indiana, including Gary, Hammond, Highland, Schererville and Crown Point.

“We are delighted to partner with one of the most respected companies in the equipment finance industry,” said Archie Brown, President and CEO of First Financial. “By combining the scale and breadth of First Financial’s products with Summit’s national leadership position in the equipment finance industry, we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on a significant growth opportunity. As a banking partner existing at 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 marketplace.

Once the deal is concluded, Summit will become a subsidiary of First Financial Bank which continues to operate as the Summit Funding Group to leverage its established brand in equipment finance. All employees and officers, including Founder and CEO Rick Ross, will retain their current roles.