Sterling Financial Corp. said Thursday it plans to buy 33 bank branches from Cleveland-based KeyCorp for about $72 million.

The deal includes 21 branches in Washington, 10 in Idaho, and two in Oregon, with deposits of $585 million. The branches, mainly in small cities and towns, would nearly double Sterling's branch network. The deal would boost Sterling's assets by about $400 million, to $2.3 billion.

"It's a compelling strategic fit for us," said Harold B. Gilkey, Sterling's chairman. "This develops an extremely good platform for future growth."

For KeyCorp, the deal largely completes its plan of unloading branches in smaller cities and concentrating on metropolitan markets. In the last 14 months, the $74 billion-asset company has sold or agreed to sell 150 branches to 15 community banks.

"Our analysis of our customers has suggested that the types of consumers that use our products and services tend to be located in urban and suburban areas," said William Murschel, a KeyCorp spokesman.

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