Belying its name, Glacier Bancorp is moving quickly to gain a share of two rapidly growing Montana markets.
The state's second-largest in-state bank announced Aug. 9 that it had agreed to buy First Security Bank of Missoula.
The deal for First Security, with about $110 million in assets, would expand Glacier's market into the Missoula and Flathead areas, two of the fastest-growing regions in the state.
The move would give Glacier, of Kalispell, more than $520 million in total assets, making it the biggest commercial bank in western Montana and second only to Billings-based First Interstate BancSystem of Montana Inc. among in-state banks.
"This is a great expansion opportunity for us," said John S. MacMillan, chief executive of Glacier. "This acquisition provides Glacier with an entrance into the very attractive Missoula-area market and increases our presence in the high-growth area of western Montana."
Mr. MacMillan said Glacier had been considering options to move into Missoula, including branching, but couldn't pass up an opportunity to jump in by purchasing First Security.
Glacier is headquartered in the northwest corner of the state; First Security is two hours due south. Continued growth is predicted for both areas.
"The merger is a marriage of two quality financial institutions," said William L. Bouchee, chief executive, First Security. "The banks will strongly complement each other. Both banks command a presence in their growing western Montana markets."
The deal, expected to be completed by yearend, is worth just under $23 million. Once the deal is complete, Glacier will have 16 offices throughout the state.
First Security has been a strong performer over the past few years. In 1995 it earned $2.3 million, with a return on assets of 2.40%. In the first half of 1996 it earned $1.2 million.
Mr. MacMillan said First Security is also the biggest Small Business Administration lender in the state.
"We're not going to go down there and change anything," he said. "First Security has consistently been one of the strongest-performing banks in the whole country in recent years. We believe with their outstanding marketing plan, this will substantially and immediately enhance the growth of the combined company."