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M & I Bank being sold to Canada's BMO

Wisconsin's largest home-grown bank, with branch offices in Hudson, River Falls, Ellsworth, Woodbury, Minn., and 218 other locations in the two states, is soon to be owned by Canadians.

The BMO Financial Group of Toronto said Friday morning it would buy Milwaukee's Marshall and Ilsley Corporation for $4.1 billion.

The sale will involve an exchange of stock. BMO plans to raise $800 million in equity before the deal is expected to close next July.

The World Economic Forum has rated Canadian banks as the strongest over the last three years. They've been expanding in the U.S. in places where banks have gotten stuck with defaults on home loans.

M&I has had eight straight quarterly losses while BMO's Bank of Montreal has seen its profits grow for six consecutive quarters - the longest among Canada's major lenders.

The CEO of the Canadian group, Bill Downe, said the acquisition of M&I will "transform" its competitive position in the U.S. He said it would provide a strong entry into a number of attractive American markets - plus expansions in Wisconsin and Indiana.

M&I CEO Mark Furlong will continue as the CEO of the firm's combined U.S. personal and commercial banking business based in Chicago. He said the transaction was good news for M&I's shareholders, customers and employees as well as the communities it serves.

M&I stockholders will get $7.75 per share.

The stock had closed Thursday at $5.59. BMO will buy M&I's preferred shares in the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program and will pay them back in full before it acquires the banks.

Marshall & Ilsley Corporation (NYSE: MI) is a diversified financial services corporation headquartered in Milwaukee with $51.9 billion in assets. Founded in 1847, M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank is the largest Wisconsin-based bank, with 192 offices throughout the state. It also has 53 locations throughout Arizona; 36 offices along Florida's west coast and in central Florida; 33 offices in Indianapolis and nearby communities; 26 offices in metropolitan Minneapolis/St. Paul, and one in Duluth, Minn.; 17 offices in the greater St. Louis area; 15 offices in Kansas City and nearby communities; and one office in Las Vegas, Nev.

M&I also provides trust and investment management, equipment leasing, mortgage banking, asset-based lending, financial planning, investments, and insurance services from offices throughout the country and on the Internet.

Established in 1817 and based in Canada, BMO Financial Group serves more than 10 million personal, commercial, corporate and institutional customers in North America and internationally. Operating groups include: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal in Canada and Harris in the United States; wealth management division Private Client Group, and BMO Capital Markets.