SAN JOSE, Calif. - Pacific Western Bancshares confirmed it is holding talks on a possible sale of the company. Its statement followed rumors of a buyout by Los Angeles-based First Interstate Bancorp and a run-up in Pacific Western's stock.

Pacific Western said in its statement on Friday that no agreement had been reached, it did not identify the potential buyer. First Interstate declined to comment.

Pacific Western, which has $1 billion of assets, last year reportedly hired Morgan Stanley & Co. to find a buyer. Subsequent discussions with the Bank of the West - a unit of Banque Nationale de Paris - and Detroit-based Comerica Inc. were said to have broken down over price. The two banks reportedly offered about 1.5 times Pacific Western's book value, or roughly $125 million.

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