Magazine article American Banker

West Coast Bancorp of Ore. Looks like Buyout Prospect

Magazine article American Banker

West Coast Bancorp of Ore. Looks like Buyout Prospect

Article excerpt

After wrapping up a yearlong effort to consolidate its four bank charters, West Coast Bancorp of Lake Oswego, Ore., is prime takeover bait.

Analysts said several factors are fueling speculation that West Coast -- Oregon's largest independent bank, with $1.2 billion of assets and 42 branches that stretch into Washington is on the block. The bank's chief executive officer, Victor L. Bartruff, resigned suddenly, and no successor has been named. And the bank's stock price has been languishing.

"If a $25-per-share offer was put on the table, the board would be hard-pressed not to take it," said Thomas J. Carley, a bank analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Portland, Ore.

R. Jay Tejera, an analyst with Seattle-based Ragen MacKenzie, agreed. He said that if the company wants to remain independent, "time is not their friend right now."

West Coast officials downplayed any susceptibility to being acquired.

Without elaborating, acting CEO Ronald DeLude said the bank intends to expand into new markets and grow internally. The specifics of that strategy are expected to be detailed next month.

"We're looking to run this enterprise," Mr. DeLude said. He added that the search for a permanent CEO is expected to end by December.

What also concerns analysts is West Coast's ability to increase its revenues and loans. The bank's second-quarter revenues grew by 4% over the same period in 1998, and its loans, 10%. This was over a period when West Coast eliminated 73 jobs, pared 50 board seats to 11, and folded four loan service centers into one. …

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