First Security Buys Banks in 3 Western States

SAN FRANCISCO - Through a series of "small bites," First Security Corp., Salt Lake City, has expanded its market position in three Western states.

In three separate deals last week, First Security agreed to acquire community banks in Idaho, Utah, and Oregon with a total of 16 branches and $262 million in assets.

First Security, with 192 branches and $6.7 billion in assets, operates the largest bank in Utah and the second largest in Idaho, as well as smaller units in Oregon and Wyoming.

An $18 Million Deal

In the biggest transaction, First Security agreed to buy The First National Bank of North Idaho, Wallace, in an exchange of stock valued at about $ 18 million.

First National, with $160 million in assets, has 10 offices in Idaho's panhandle region south of the Canadian border.

At First Security's current stock price of slightly over $24 per share, the deal is worth about 1.8 times First National's book value, an official of the Idaho bank said.

Separately, First Security agreed to buy Utah Bank and Trust, Bountiful, in a stock swap valued at $12.5 million at current market values. It also agreed to buy Bank of Willamette Valley in Dallas, Ore., for $4.7 million in cash.

Utah Bank and Trust, with $74.7 million in assets, has five branches in the Salt Lake City area. Bank of Willamette Valley has $27 million in assets and a single branch near Salem, First Security's strongest market in Oregon.

"These are in-market transactions to improve our market presence," said Morgan J. Evans, First Security president and chief administrative officer.

The Idaho deal, for example, will nearly double the number of First Security branches in the five counties south of the Canadian border. First Security will move from a distant second in deposit market share to a near equal to West One Bank, the state's largest.

First Security will continue looking for opportunities to expand in "small bites" within its market area, Mr. Evans said. In Oregon, he noted, the company wants to grow through acquisitions in the Willamette Valley and Interstate 5 region.

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