Total non-interest expense was $7.9 million higher for the year ending December 31, 2012 compared to 2011 and $2.8 million higher for the three months ending December 31, 2012 compared to the three months ending December 31, 2011. Salaries and employee benefits increased $5.5 million for the year ending December 31, 2012 compared to 2011 and were $2.0 million higher for the three months ending December 31, 2012 compared to 2011. These increases were primarily the result of changes to annual merit pay, employee benefits costs, commissions earned and bonus accruals. In addition, compensation expense was higher due to the Heartland merger and directly related to Horizon’s investment in growth markets. Included in 2012’s non-interest expense was approximately $1.5 million of transaction expenses related to the Heartland acquisition.
Dwight concluded: “In an eventful year with numerous potential distractions, Horizon grew its existing banking business while integrating acquired assets and positioning the Company to pursue additional expansion opportunities. In addition to the acquisition, Horizon opened two new full service branches: one in Valparaiso, Indiana, which was our third branch in this market, and relocated a loan and deposit office in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We also opened the loan and deposit office in Indianapolis, Indiana, which grew total assets to $35 million in approximately six months of operations.”“We very are diligent in analyzing opportunities before opening offices or branches. We anticipate leasing an empty bank building in downtown Kalamazoo and opening a new office in the coming months to serve this strong-performing market. We have also started construction on a branch in the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood, Indiana. When completed, we plan to relocate a current branch to this location, which we believe is far superior.” “Horizon continues to consider opportunities to expand in our existing and new markets and to further leverage our capabilities and business model. We remain focused on growing shareholder value, including returning a portion of earnings as cash dividends. We were gratified that during a time of great uncertainty, speculation and volatility in the stock market, investors recognized and rewarded our performance with a significantly higher stock price. We are making strategic investments in people and capabilities which, we believe, will allow us to be more productive and generate business, creating a balanced approach to building the Horizon franchise.”