Old National Bank branch at 4303 Lahmeyer Road

Old National Bank plans to close this branch at 4303 Lahmeyer Road in Fort Wayne in April and consolidate its operations with those of its downtown banking center.

Old National Bank will close 31 banking centers, including 10 in Indiana, to optimize its branch network this spring.

Locally, “our Stellhorn location will close and consolidate into our downtown Fort Wayne location,” spokeswoman Kathy Schoettlin said in an email.

“We are still assessing staffing needs but expect to have (changes) limited to no job loss as a result of the consolidation. We also hope to maintain the ATM at the Stellhorn location. In addition, our clients have access to over 55,000 ATMs worldwide,” she said.

Consolidation of the bank’s operations at 4303 Lahmeyer Road with those in the 22-story, art deco Lincoln Tower in the heart of downtown on East Berry Street, and the 30 other closures scheduled for April are a result of the changes in client banking habits and expectations, Schoettlin said.

“More and more people are opting to use online and mobile banking for these types of transactions that once brought them into a branch — a financial services industrywide trend,” she said. “We will continue to invest in technology and meet our clients where they are.”

Beyond northeast Indiana, Schoettlin said the closest location closings to Fort Wayne probably will take place in Muncie and Lafayette, where each market will lose one Old National banking center.

The branch network optimization scheduled for April 24 “reflects an ongoing shift among our clients toward digital banking solutions,” Old National Bancorp said in a recent earnings report.

“Many of the facilities to be consolidated are in smaller markets, several of which were added in recent years through partnership activity,” it said. “By state, these consolidations include 10 banking centers in both Wisconsin and Indiana, five in Michigan, four in Minnesota and two in Kentucky.”

The changes will take place as part of a new strategic plan implemented less than a year after Jim Ryan succeeded Bob Jones last May as CEO for the bank and its holding company.

Old National Bancorp’s board also named Ryan its chairman late last month, succeeding Jones in the position. Former Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman remained in her role as the board’s independent lead director.

“It is a great honor to be named Old National Board Chairman and continue our company’s long-standing commitment to passionately serve our clients, team members, shareholders and communities,” Ryan said in a news release on his appointment.

“I’m particularly humbled to succeed Bob Jones. His influence on Old National — and on me, personally — is immeasurable, and I’m honored to continue his legacy.”

Old National’s earnings report was upbeat for the fourth quarter and the full year.

A lower loan loss provision and increases of 25% for net interest income and 2% for noninterest income contributed to 25% earnings growth for the Evansville-based company last year.

It reported 2019 net income of $238.2 million, or $1.38 per share, up from $190.8 million, or $1.22 per share, for 2018.

Its loan loss provision fell to $4.7 million from $7 million.

The company’s fourth quarter earnings of $49.2 million, or 29 cents per share, were up 4% from $47.5 million, or 28 cents per share, for the same period the prior year.

“Our fourth quarter results capped a strong year of earnings for Old National,” Ryan said in the report on its 2019 and fourth quarter financial performance.

“Full-year 2019 results included three quarters of record net income, stellar credit metrics, well controlled expenses and record commercial loan production, all of which was accomplished while finalizing a new strategic plan —known as The ONB Way — that will ensure our clients remain at the center of all we do.”

The company said its new strategic plan includes:

• Realigning the organization into clearly defined segments to align leaders and relationship managers with the client segment they can best serve while not wavering on … commitment to community.

• Deepening client relationships through integrated Commercial, Community Banking and Wealth teams.

• Simplifying and improving the end-to-end banking/borrowing journey while adhering to strong risk management principles.

• Creating a new Wealth Division that combines wealth management, investments and private banking for a simplified, highly consultative client experience firmly rooted in financial planning.

• Investing in … operational and IT infrastructure to meet our clients “where they are” and ensure that (operations) keep pace with technology and client digital expectations.

Old National’s net interest income grew to $604.3 million last year from $537.6 million the year before as its noninterest income rose to $199.3 million from $195.3 million, according to the earnings report.

The company’s board approved a dividend of 14 cents per share payable March 16 to shareholders of record March 2.

It also authorized the repurchase of up to 7 million shares through Jan. 31, 2021, in the open market or privately negotiated transactions.

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