First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ: FFBC) has entered an agreement to acquire Summit Funding Group, Inc., the fourth largest independent equipment financing platform in the United States.

Following the closing of the deal, Summit will be a subsidiary of First Financial and will retain its leadership and associates. Summit will continue operating under the Summit Funding Group name to take advantage of its brand recognition.

The deal follows First Financial’s strategy of deploying excess capital to acquire and grow additive lines of business and contribute to overall growth and financial returns for shareholders.

“With First Financial, we are joining a like-minded partner who is well-positioned to assist Summit in unlocking significant growth, while enhancing profitability through immediate funding synergies and sharing a commitment to credit performance excellence,” added Rick Ross, Summit CEO and founder.

Lazard served as First Financial’s financial advisor on the transaction, and Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP served as legal counsel. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a Stifel Company, served as financial advisor to Summit, and Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP served as legal counsel.