Cowlitz Bancorp. of Longview, Wash, which has been looking to establish a presence in Portland, Ore., said it signed a definitive agreement to buy troubled Northern Bank of Commerce for $7.2 million in cash and stock.

Cowlitz would pay Northern Bank of Commerce shareholders $5.20 a share. Cowlitz would also place $2 million in cash in a two-year escrow account, to hedge Cowlitz from any potential losses in Northern Bank of Commerce's loan portfolio. At the end of two years, the $2 million, minus any funds required to cover losses in the portfolio, would be distributed among Northen Bank's shareholders.

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