Trend in bank consolidations expected to continue in 2017

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Experts expect the trend of bank consolidations in Wisconsin to continue in the new year.

Nineteen mergers or acquisitions involving Wisconsin-based banks were announced in 2016. That's up from 12 mergers in 2015 and nine in 2014.

Industry observers say the consolidations are motivated by rising technology and regulatory costs. Shareholders want to cash out but management successors cannot be found, especially in rural communities with smaller banks.

The Journal Sentinel says this past year, most of the Wisconsin-related mergers have been among community banks located in the state. But two large mergers are bringing out-of-state banks to the Wisconsin for the first time, even though the acquired banks are out of state. They include the acquisition of Ohio's FirstMerit by Ohio's Huntington Bank, and the purchase of Chicago-based PrivateBank by Canada's CIBC bank.

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