Victor Bartruff knows the value of cooperation among rival community bankers. He might not be chief executive of Oregon's largest independent bank if not for the help of two competitors.

Four years ago, Mr. Bartruff's West Coast Bancorp was battling what it considered a hostile takeover attempt by Western Bank, a rival from Coos Bay, Ore. Desperate for support in the proxy fight, Mr. Bartruff persuaded two other Oregon community banking companies to buy chunks of West Coast stock.

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