Anchor Bancorp in Lacey, Wash., which has been facing pressure from a prominent activist investor to sell itself, has hired an investment bank to explore strategic options.

The $419 million-asset company said in a press release Monday that it had hired Keefe, Bruyette & Woods to assist in a process that could include a sale.

"Following a detailed evaluation over the past several months, we have determined that it is prudent to undertake a review … to determine which alternative or alternatives, including our standalone plans, are in fact the best way to maximize shareholder value," Jerald Shaw, Anchor's president and chief executive, said in the release.

"We have received many communications from shareholders on their views on improving shareholder value and we are committed to ensuring we evaluate all opportunities," Shaw added. "Regardless of the outcome … the entire Anchor team is fully committed to meeting the needs of our customers and continuing to provide them with exceptional service."

Anchor has faced demands from Stilwell Group to find a buyer. Anchor said as recently as July 7 that calls for its sale seemed "premature."

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