United Security Bancorp. of Spokane, Wash., announced last week that it would buy Bancwest Financial Corp. of Walla Walla, Wash., for $33 million in stock.

United Security would trade about 4.7 shares of its common stock for each share of Bancwest, which is privately held.

The deal, expected to close during the first quarter, calls for Bancwest's $104 million-asset subsidiary, Bank of the West, to become a subsidiary of the acquirer. United Security, with $404 million of assets, operates four banks with 27 branches in eastern Washington and Idaho.

Bancwest is selling despite posting excellent returns. From 1996 through 1998, its average return on assets was 2%, and its return on equity was more than 18%.

Wes Colley, president and chairman of Bancwest, said his company was looking for a buyer that would let Bancwest's management continue to have a say in day-to-day operations.

Two other banks that United Security has purchased in the past year, Bank of Pullman and Grant National Bank, have kept their names, boards, and management after the deals were closed.

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