Bank of Hawaii (BOH) in Honolulu will exit the American Samoa market in the first quarter by closing its two branches in the U.S. territory.

The $13.9 billion-asset company decided in 2000 to focus on its core markets of Hawaii and Guam but had opted to keep its presence in American Samoa, Hobbs Lowson, the company's district manager for American Samoa, said in a press release Friday. But it's become "increasingly difficult" to maintain the branches "due to its geographic isolation from our other markets," he said.

Bank of Hawaii is working with local government officials and ANZ Bank in American Samoa to ensure customers' banking needs are met, Lowson said.

Bank of Hawaii and ANZ Bank are the only banks to hold deposits on the island, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Bank of Hawaii held about $98 million in deposits on American Samoa at June 30, based on FDIC data.

Customers who do not close or transfer their accounts prior to the branch closings will receive a cashier's check for the balance in their account. Customers with loans at Bank of Hawaii will be provided with future payment instructions, the company said.

Bank of Hawaii has been operating in American Samoa since 1969 and employs 30 people. Employees at the branches will receive severance packages based on years of service and outplacement services.

Following the closures, Bank of Hawaii will have 74 branches.

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