A Washington State thrift company struck a deal to buy a commercial bank in the Pacific Northwest, its third such deal in 1998.

First Washington Bancorp in Walla Walla said last week that it signed a definitive agreement to buy Seaport Citizens Bank of Lewistown, Idaho, for $10.1 million in cash. The transaction, which marks First Washington's entry into Idaho, is valued at 2.5 times Seaport Citizen's book value and 16 times earnings for the 12 months ending Sept. 30.

Seaport Citizens, founded in 1979, has three branches and $45 million of assets. It will operate as a division of First Washington's subsidiary company, First Savings Bank.

Gary Sirmon, president and chief executive at $1.4 billion-asset First Washington, said this transaction would allow the bank "to develop a presence in northern Idaho, where we expect solid economic growth." The sale is expected to close in the second quarter of 1999.

First Washington also acquired Whatcom State Bank Inc., Bellingham, Wash., and Seattle-based Towne Bank last year.

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