A new merger deal would take Oregon's West Coast Bancorp across the state line and in the process increase its share of its core Portland-area market.

West Coast, headquartered in Lake Oswego, has an agreement for its first out-of-state acquisition - of Vancouver Bancorp, based in Vancouver, Wash., just across the Columbia River from Portland.

The deal would give Vancouver Bancorp shareholders $11.6 million of West Coast Bancorp stock. The exchange ratio would be set just prior to the merger's close, slated for mid-1996.

Vancouver Bancorp is the parent for fast-growing Bank of Vancouver, a commercial bank that posted a return on assets of 1.26% and return on equity of 17.2% in 1995.

It has just one office, but Vancouver Bancorp assets total nearly $80 million. West Coast, with $571 million in assets, has 28 branches, including eight in the Portland metro area.

"This gives us a stronger presence in that market," said Victor L. Bartruff, co-president and chief executive of West Coast. "We haven't had a really strong presence there before, and Vancouver Bancorp has done well in that market."

Like all of Oregon, Portland has grown rapidly in the past few years, buoyed by economic diversification, including an influx of high-tech money in the western part of the state.

"I think it's a very good deal," said Thatcher S. Thompson, analyst with Dain Bosworth Inc., Seattle. "The Portland-Vancouver metro area is the second-fastest job growth market in the country. It had a job growth rate of 4.3% in '95, and added more than 35,000 jobs in the area."

Mr. Thompson said that West Coast, which includes Bank of Newport, Commercial Bank, and Valley Commercial Bank, has more room to grow if it's interested in doing so

"They've got a market targeted, and it's the northwest quadrant of Oregon and the southwest quadrant of Washington," he said. "In that area there are probably 40 banks with less than $200 million in assets that are possibilities for them."

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