Magazine article American Banker

West One Move May Lure Bids, Analysts Say

Magazine article American Banker

West One Move May Lure Bids, Analysts Say

Article excerpt

West One Bancorp plans to sell 1.5 million common shares to finance the pending acquisition of 38 branches in Washington State and Oregon from BankAmerica Corp.

Though the Boise, Idaho, company will use the capital to finance a purchase, analysts think the overall strategy is to become a more attractive acquisition candidate.

No Contradiction Seen

"I don't think the fact that a company is building a franchise is necessarily an indication that they are unwilling to consider themselves a takeover candidate," said Lawrence Vitale, an analyst with Kemper Securities in Chicago.

"The branch deal is an attempt to make their franchise even more attractive to an potential acquirer."

West One, which declined to comment on its strategy, filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week to sell the shares. At West One's current stock price of about $41, the sale would generate $61.5 million.

Deal Is Called a Sweet One

In April, West One, which has $5.3 billion in assets, signed a deal with BankAmerica to buy the branches in Washington and an additional three in Oregon. BankAmerica was required by regulators to sell the branches to acquire Security Pacific Corp. It is acquiring $1.3 billion in deposits through the purchase.

In a recent report, Fox-Pitt Kelton Inc. recommended buying the stock because the banking company has a multistate franchise, a relatively low-risk profile, and the possibility it will be taken over. West One is "uniquely positioned to attract suitor interest," the report said. …

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