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Oxford Bank terminates merger



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May 15, 2013 - Oxford Bank will remain.

Due to improved operating results for the first quarter of 2013 and delays in a proposed merger to the Farmington Hills-based Level One Bank, the company's board of directors, after consultation with its legal counsel and financial advisor, terminated the merger agreement on May 14.

Locally, there are two branches of Oxford Bank, in Goodrich, 8125 State Road and in Ortonville, 345 Ortonville Road.

"Oxford Bank has made a lot of progress," said James Bess, president and CEO of Oxford Bank. "We are at a juncture. Last year it was a challenge every day to reduce the chances of the bank failing—at one time we needed $30 million for operations to continue, now that number is about $5 million. We have come a long ways."

In November 2012, a majority of Oxford Bank shareholders voted to sell all 1,156,690 of the institution's outstanding shares to Level One for $3 each. In essence, Level One is purchasing Oxford Bank and all of its assets for $3.47 million.

Under the terms of the company's agreement with Level One, either party had a right to terminate the contract, without penalty, if the transaction was not closed before May 13, said Bess.

The board of directors considered a number of factors, including the continuation of the operating restrictions imposed on Oxford Bank under the merger agreement, the uncertainty of the timetable for closing the merger, the difficulty that the uncertainty caused in maintaining qualified staff, and the improving financial condition of the bank, said Bess.

"We still have to raise additional capital," he said. "We will continue to run a bank; however we are looking out now rather than looking in. We have a lot of money to lend, area residents will soon notice more visibility in the communities we serve. We are not on top of the mountain, but we are climbing."

"There were just too many delays—and (Level One) would not disclose the extent of the delays," he said. "Many of our employees had concerns about job security—that situation was very harmful to the company. It was what it was."

Bess said Oxford Bank has made and will continue to make significant investments in the communities of Ortonville and Goodrich and provide full service in the area.

In 2004 Oxford Bank purchased a 1-acre site on the northeast corner of M-15 (State Road) and Hawes Street in the Village of Goodrich, (8125 State Road). About a year later Oxford Bank opened a 2,800-square foot Goodrich branch with five inside teller windows, two offices and a conference room.

Oxford Bank is the oldest commercial bank in Oakland County and operates eight full-service offices in Clarkston, Davison, Dryden, Goodrich, Lake Orion, Oakland Township, Ortonville and Oxford.

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