Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Local Bank of America branches sold

Seattle-based bank buys 51 branches in 4 Western states

Express Staff Writer

    Seattle-based Washington Federal Bank is acquiring 51 Bank of America branches in four Western states, including 15 in Idaho, including one in Ketchum and one in Hailey.
    The acquisitions were announced Friday and will be finalized in late 2013, pending federal regulatory approval.
    “Washington Federal has been looking for opportunities to grow through acquisitions in states where it already has branches, including Oregon, Idaho and New Mexico,” The Seattle Times reported Friday.
    Terms of the deal were not made public, but the Seattle Times reported that Washington Federal paid a premium of 2.6 percent on deposits it will acquire from Bank of America. The branches represent approximately $1.8 billion of deposits and $11 million of loans, The Seattle Times reported.
    “When the deal closes, the assets of Washington Federal, already the largest bank headquartered in the state [Washington], will swell to about $15 billion. And the bank’s workforce will grow by more than 20 percent to nearly 1,800 employees in eight states,” The Seattle Times reported.
    About 20 people work at the two Bank of America branch offices in the Wood River Valley. All employees have been offered the option of remaining employed under Washington Federal, but specifics on any changes that could take place under the new ownership have not been released.
    “This is so new, we are still learning about it,” said Ketchum Bank of America branch assistant manager Eric Madsen. “We are told that Washington Federal has been around nearly 100 years and never made any layoffs. It is a very financially solid,” Madsen said.
    According to a fact sheet issued to bank customers in Ketchum, accounts that will transition are deposit accounts such as checking, savings, IRAs and cash deposits belonging to consumers, small businesses, and “Merrill Edge” plan customers who live in the local area and are serviced at local bank locations. Some loans are also included in the transition, as well as safe-deposit boxes and their leases.    
    Accounts remaining with BofA include credit cards, mortgages, investments and merchant services accounts, and the personal and business deposit accounts of U.S. Trust and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management clients.
    “Bank of America and Washington Federal will keep customers who are affected fully informed well before any changes occur,” the fact sheet states.
Madsen said he has read that the sale of BofA branches was part of a three-year BofA restructuring plan to focus business in metropolitan areas.
    The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that shares of BofA stock has doubled over the past year, “despite complaints about increased regulations.”
    The Seattle Times reported that Washington Federal CEO Roy Whitehead said the purchase of BofA branches is the largest acquisition in the Seattle-based banking company’s history.
    “We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it in one fell swoop,” Whitehead said.

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