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Wall Street Transcript Interview with Donald P. Hileman, CEO of First Defiance Financial Corp. (FDEF)

67 WALL STREET, New York - January 31, 2014 - The Wall Street Transcript has just published its Southeast & Midwestern Banks Report offering a timely review of the sector to serious investors and industry executives. This special feature contains expert industry commentary through in-depth interviews with public company CEOs and Equity Analysts. The full issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.

Topics covered: Interest Rates and Loan-Growth Strategies - Regulatory Outlook Gains Clarity - Investing in Regional Banks - Heightened M&A Activity - Consolidation in Regional Banking - Increased Lending Opportunities - Heightened Banking Competition - Benefits from Higher Interest Rates

Companies include: First Defiance Financial Corp. (FDEF) and many more.

In the following excerpt from the Southeast & Midwestern Banks Report, Donald P. Hileman, CEO of First Defiance Financial Corp. (FDEF) discusses company strategy and the outlook for this vital sector:

TWST: What is the competitive landscape? Given the enormity of the too big to fail, the universal bank, many of whom despite lacking a personal touch, are bigger than ever. Does familiarity and direct interaction with the customer still rank as a competitive advantage?

Mr. Hileman: I think it does. I think we still strongly believe in the premise that a community banking philosophy matters, but we're not just commoditizing all of our products and services. There is a benefit from being able to, if you so desire, come in and talk to somebody and have that personal relationship with your bank and your banker. And we think that's important and it gives us somewhat of a competitive edge over just having everything commoditizing, universal bank, if you will.

Now with that being said, we're expanding our ability for alternative delivery of our products and services to try to meet to the clients that have different needs. Some of our clients want the products and services that they need with a low-touch delivery service, some with higher touch. So we're looking to, at our level, try to service both sides of the needs of the customers from high touch and low touch. I think we can do that.

TWST: In your last earnings call there were several bright spots, and aside from an adjustment here and there, particularly within this new regulatory environment, there were many positives. Please share with us some of the highlights from your most recent earnings release. What has changed compared to the previous two years, and what is your outlook for 2014?

Mr. Hileman: I think overall our outlook is fairly optimistic about the opportunities for 2014. We saw some loan growth in the fourth quarter of 2013. We hope that momentum will carry forward through 2014. We were able to show improved credit quality...

For more of this interview and many others visit the Wall Street Transcript - a unique service for investors and industry researchers - providing fresh commentary and insight through verbatim interviews with CEOs, portfolio managers and research analysts. This special issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.