FLINT - The largest bank holding company in Michigan will see changes across a five-state region after two bank franchises entered into a merger earlier this month. First Merit Corporation and Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. announced on Sept. 13 they have entered into a definitive agreement. Rob Townsend, media relations officer with First Merit said though it's too soon to speculate how the merge will affect the opening or closing of bank branches, he does not anticipate many closures, if any. "First Merit is coming to Michigan without any exist branches," Townsend said. "I would expect that any branch closures would be minimal." The merger will leave the joint company with 415 branches, 452 ATMs and more than 5,000 employees across the five contiguous states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. The majority of the current Citizens Bank employees will maintain a spot within the company and the transition should be seamless for customers, Townsend said. However, if any major changes occur, customers will be notified in advance. "We have done this several times in recent years, we made several acquisitions in Chicago and our goal was to make transition seamless for customers," Townsend said. "We expect (customers) will see the same people they've been doing business with in their branches." According to a press release issued by the company, the agreement is not expected to be final until the second quarter of 2013. Citizens will be rebranded to the FirstMerit name, and the full conversion is not expected to be complete until later in 2013. "We are excited to bring FirstMerit to new customers and communities throughout Michigan and Wisconsin. These two states offer a strong cultural fit for our proven super community bank model of providing world-class products and services through local delivery by bankers our customers know and trust," said Paul G. Greig, chairman, president and CEO of FirstMerit. "With a five-state reach that will extend from Western Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, FirstMerit looks to become the bank of choice among businesses and individuals across the upper Midwest." The company anticipates to maintain its level of community involvement through charitable giving and other philanthropic activities following completion of the transaction. After the aquisition, the company will have approximately $24 billion in total assets. "The Citizens board and management team believe that combining with FirstMerit will deliver significant value for our shareholders, while allowing them to participate in the tremendous upside potential of a stronger bank with increased scale," stated Cathleen Nash, president and CEO of Citizens. "For our clients, this merger doubles the branch network, expanding it across the upper Midwest, and provides access to an enhanced suite of products and services. "Furthermore, with shared core values and a similar culture, the combined company will provide increased opportunities to many of our bankers. On behalf of the entire Citizens Board and management team, we thank our dedicated employees for their continued hard work - especially over the past several years - and look forward to working with Paul and the FirstMerit team to complete this exciting transaction."