HONOLULU - BancWest Corp.'s board on Monday night approved a bid by the French banking company BNP Paribas to buy the 55% of BancWest it does not already own, for $2.5 billion.

The vote came after three months of talks between BancWest chairman and chief executive Walter A. Dods and representatives from BNP Paribas.

Mr. Dods, in a telephone interview Tuesday, said he had pursued a buyout because he is eager to do larger acquisitions on the U.S. mainland and make $19.4 billion-asset BancWest a "truly superregional bank."

"I thought there was an opportunity … with some of the slowdown in the United States, to find some banks with more reasonable prices," he said from the bank's Honolulu headquarters.

"To do that we needed a much stronger partner, because we can't go to the debt market" to raise the amount of financing needed for larger acquisitions, he said.

The buyout talks evolved from the 1998 merger of Honolulu-based First Hawaiian Bank and Bank of the West. First Hawaiian bought Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas predecessor Banque Nationale de Paris, which retained 45% of the combined company.

BNP Paribas offered $35 in cash for every BancWest share, a 40% premium to Friday's closing stock price.

On Tuesday, BancWest said that the buyout required approval of regulators and two-thirds of its shareholders, but it expects the transaction to take place in the third quarter. BancWest would keep its headquarters in Honolulu, and its management, led by Mr. Dods, would stay the same.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.