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Heartland Financial USA, Inc. Acquires Sterling, Illinois-Based Freedom Bank

Stocks in this article: HTLF

Heartland Financial USA, Inc. (NASDAQ: HTLF) announced today it has acquired Freedom Bank in Sterling, Illinois, from its parent company, River Valley Bancorp, Inc., a Davenport, Iowa-based bank holding company. The acquisition of Freedom Bank was arranged through a negotiated transfer of ownership with Heartland’s flagship bank, Dubuque Bank and Trust Company.

Freedom Bank is a $67 million community bank headquartered in Sterling, Illinois, with branch offices in Rock Falls and Seaton, Illinois.

“Freedom’s three offices expand our reach and create an opportunity for the Heartland organization to enhance the range of services that Freedom provides to business, agri-business and consumer banking clientele. The Freedom Bank markets in Whiteside and Mercer Counties represent solid and steady markets,” indicated Lynn B. Fuller, President and CEO of Heartland. “With a population base of over 15,000, Sterling in particular presents a strong blend of industry, commercial and retail business as well as residential mortgage potential. Additionally, Sterling serves a robust agricultural market in northwest Illinois.”

Freedom Bank will operate independently as a subsidiary of Dubuque Bank and Trust Company under its current name, staff and systems until at least the first quarter of 2014. Heartland intends to apply at that time for regulatory approval to consolidate Freedom with Riverside Community Bank, Heartland’s Rockford, Illinois-based bank, and will continue the excellent community banking services Freedom has always provided from its current offices.

Freedom Bank president, Pamela Topper, stated, “We are very pleased to partner with a strong company that is committed to face-to-face customer service and locally-based community banking that will continue our long tradition of strong community leadership and support. We look forward to providing the expanded range of services that can be offered to our business and personal customers through the Heartland organization.”

Said Dennis Hanson, President and CEO of Valley Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of River Valley Bancorp, Inc., “We believe our Freedom Bank customers will be in very good hands going forward. Heartland and its subsidiary banks are a perfect fit, with a strong orientation toward business and commercial clients, and a wide selection of financial products, all delivered via enhanced technology. This transaction is also good for River Valley Bancorp as it allows us to focus more resources on our primary banking markets in the Quad Cities and central Iowa.”

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