AKRON, Ohio (AP) _ FirstMerit Corp. has agreed to pay $470 million, or $37.21 a share, to buy bank-holding company Signal Corp.

FirstMerit, a $6.2 billion bank-holding company based in Akron, said today it will exchange 1.32 of its shares for each Signal share. FirstMerit also will receive an option to acquire up to 19.9 percent of Signal's common stock.

The price is a 32 percent premium over Monday's closing price of $28 for Signal on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Shares of FirstMerit closed Monday at $28.18 3/4, also on the Nasdaq.

Signal is a $1.9 billion bank-holding company based in Wooster, Ohio.

The boards of both companies have approved the acquisition, but stockholder and regulatory approval is still required. The companies expect the deal to be completed by early next year.