Banner Corp. in Walla Walla, Wash., found a way to stay below $10 billion in assets and avoid the Durbin amendment’s cap on interchange fees.

The company said in a press release Thursday that it sold about $450 million of investment securities in the fourth quarter, using the proceeds to fund loans and operations and to make payments on wholesale borrowings and maturing brokered deposits.

Mark Grescovich
Banner Corp., led by CEO Mark Grescovich, managed to stay below $10 billion in asset at the end of 2017.

Banner said it incurred pretax net losses of about $2.3 million tied to the securities sale, though the move will produce tax benefits based on 2017’s corporate tax rate of 35%.

The company also reduced equity capital in the fourth quarter by buying back more than 520,000 shares of its common stock for $29.6 million.

Banner has said in the past that a cap on interchange fees would eventually reduce pretax revenues by an annualized $12 million.

The company’s total assets have lingered just below $10 billion since it bought AmericanWest Bank in 2015 for $702 million. Banner executives signaled recently that they are focused on organic growth instead of acquisitions.

Other banks, including Customers Bancorp in Wyomissing, Pa., have also taken steps to stay below the $10 billion asset threshold. Customers is spinning off BankMobile so the digital bank can continue to grow without worrying about the Durbin amendment.

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