Despite analysts' skepticism, it appears Banner Corp. of Walla Walla, Wash., is advancing in its attempts to raise capital.

The $4.6 billion-asset company announced late last week that it would sell 75 million shares of common stock at $2 a share. In total it expects to net $141.75 million from the effort.

A significant portion of the proceeds would go toward strengthening capital ratios at the Banner Bank unit and to support growth. The sale is expected to close today.

The capital raise, however, comes at a steep discount. Banner is selling new shares at a 43% discount to its closing price on June 17.

It announced the effort after the market closed that day. On Monday afternoon the stock was trading at $2 a share.

Banner Bank was well capitalized as of March 31, but it is working through a high level of nonperforming assets and has significant exposure to commercial real estate. Analysts have been skeptical about whether the effort would be successful and whether the $150 million in capital would be sufficient.

This is Banner's second recent attempt to raise capital. In December it launched but quickly called off a $75 million capital-raising effort.

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