Special coverage

Sterling Financial

Spokane-based Sterling Savings Bank and holding company Sterling Financial Corp. were founded in 1983 by William Zuppe and Harold Gilkey.

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Umpqua Bank starts wildfire fund to help provide short-term loans

Umpqua Bank, which recently merged with Sterling Financial, has started a Wildfire Relief Lending Program to help customers in parts of Washington and Oregon hit hard by wildfires.

The new fund allows Umpqua customers who reside in area under voluntary or mandatory evacuation to receive rapid access to personal loans up to $2,500. The loans will help customers take care of immediate needs including short-term living expenses, generators for power and other immediate needs. Loan approvals are subject minimum credit requirements.

“Communities throughout the Umpqua footprint are currently facing one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent history and we wanted to do something to help,” said Ray Davis, Umpqua Bank president and CEO. “We realize that customers in Brewster and the surrounding areas have been deeply affected by the Carlton Complex fire, with some forced to evacuate with virtually no notice, and many customers in Burns, Oregon, have been seriously impacted. We’ve created this emergency lending program to provide quick, low-cost access to funds to support customers’ immediate needs.”

 

 

No Spokane branches of Sterling Bank will close, says Umpqua

None of Sterling Bank’s nine area branches will be closed during a round of reductions now taking place as Umpqua Bank begins aligning operations in the wake of its takeover of Sterling.

Bank officers are closing 27 branches across Washington, Oregon and California during the next several months. Those closures – including 13 branches in Washington along with seven each in Oregon and California – are occurring where both Umpqua and Sterling had branches within a few miles of each other, said company spokeswoman Eve Callahan.

Umpqua finished its purchase of Sterling two months ago in a $2 billion stock deal. The nearest Sterling closures to Spokane will be two Tri-Cities branches and one in Clarkston, Callahan said.

The two closed Tri-Cities Sterling branches were located inside Wal-Marts, she said.

In some cases the closed branch was an Umpqua operation, and in others it was a Sterling branch, she said.

In the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, two branches were within 500 feet, she said. In that case, an Umpqua branch will be folded into the nearby Sterling branch.

The exact number of jobs lost has not yet been settled, Callahan said. No more branch closures are anticipated during 2014, she said.

 

We lost a corporate headquarters with Umpqua merger, but the new bank looks solid

While some may lament the loss of another company headquarters in the merger of Umpqua and Sterling banks, the good news is the new bank combines Sterling's solid lineup of strong departments with a bank widely considered an innovator in the financial services area.

Saturday's SR story on the merger noted the merger is now official.

Both banks in fact have been listed by Forbes magazine on its list of most respected U.S. banks.

In 2012 the bank listed Umpqua Holdings Corp. as the top-rated Oregon bank. It landed at 28 overall on the list.

Forbes used several criteria to devise the rankings, including profits, bad loans and several measures of capital.

Sterling was ranked No. 40 on the same list.

Photo credit: Dan Pelle for The Spokesman-Review

 

 

Sterling employees start looking toward their future with Umpqua

We'll be asking what the actual headcount reduction will be, following today's announcement that the Umpqua Bank merger with Sterling Bank has cleared all hurdles.

The first signs of the deal will be Sterling’s regional signs being replaced by Umpqua Bank signs the weekend of April 18 and continuing for the next 10 weeks.

Portland-based Umpqua will gain a financial services foothold in Eastern Washington. It is considered Oregon’s largest bank.

It’s paying about $1.9 billion in stock for Sterling, which has around 650 area workers and more than 2,600 across the service area, which includes Idaho, Oregon and California.

Sterling has 176 branches in those states and in Washington.

“We’ll be the largest community bank on the West Coast and the 34th largest community bank in the country,” Coon noted.

Sterling CEO Greg Seibly will stay with the company, previous news releases have said.

Merging with Sterling gives Umpqua roughly $22 billion in assets and almost 400 total branches.

Coon said the merger will result in the loss of some area Sterling positions. The full scope of that reduction is still being determined, she said.

Area’s second-largest business story for 2013: Umpqua buys Sterling Bank

Today's post: The No. 2 business story of the year for the Spokane North Idaho area.

Last week we posted No. 3, the widespread credit card breach connected to area grocery stores.

No. 2 is the acquisition of Spokane's largest home-based bank, Sterling Financial by Oregon-based Umpqua Bank. Our earlier story on the acquisition ran on Sept. 11, 2013.

Tomorrow, Dec. 31, we list the No. 1 business story for 2013.  Because of our pick-the-top-story contest, the final story will determine who wins the SR OfficeHours $10 coffee card.

 

 

Sterling share price did show a large spike several days before Umpqua deal

The day after Sterling Financial announced it's being taken over by Portland-based Umpqua Bank, here's one graphic that raises questions about who knew about the merger early-on.

The story of the announcement ran in the Sept. 12 Spokesman Review and online.

The graphic here shows a 30-day chart of the public share prices of Sterling vs. Umpqua vs. a regional community bank, PacWest Bank. All trade on the Nasdaq. Sterling is green, Umpqua is blue.

Sterling's stock shows the most impressive jump, and that has led some lurkers and outsiders to wonder who got advance word of the deal.  The Great Stock Price Leap occurs from Aug. 21 through Aug. 24.

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Sterling rebrands Sonoma Bank and Borrego Springs Bank as Argent Bank

Sterling Financial Corporation  and its subsidiary, Sterling Savings Bank, announced on Monday the rebranding of its two California banks under the name Argent Bank.

The name applies to Sonoma Bank and Borrego Springs Bank, the two banking systems Sterling has acquired in California. It will also attach the name to the Commerce National Bank system it's buying pending approval later this year.

CEO and President Greg Seibly said, in a release, “Argent Bank unifies our California banking operations under one brand, providing a cohesive identity for the bank to continue to grow and deepen its roots in California. Our recent acquisitions demonstrate that we are committed to California and are ready to build a strong franchise in the state.”

Sterling Financial chose the name Argent — which means “silver” in French — because it wanted a name that aligned with the bank’s identity. It is linked in a clear way to the name “sterling.”

Sonoma Bank and Borrego Springs Bank will transition to the Argent Bank name on Sept. 23, 2013. Commerce National Bank, which has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Sterling Financial, will transition to the Argent Bank name after the acquisition is completed, which is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2013.  
  
The BankWithArgent.com website, which will share the same look and feel as the Sterling Bank website, is now live.

Spokane’s Downtown “Duck Man” a shining star of spring memories

WILDLIFE — Among the urban wildlife spectacles that stand out in Spokane's history, it's tough to beat the Duck Man's help in usering a brood of ducklings from their nest at Sterling Savings Bank to the water in Riverfront Park.

Joel Armstrong made some good catches in the May 16, 2009 episode  as he helped the mallard mother parade her 12 ducklings down the Lilac Parade route — just shortly before the parade started.

Video of the event rightly made national news, above.

Kudos to the bank, which stepped up and turned the event into a windfall for waterfowl at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

Sherwood buildings sold to two area groups, and both got great deals

The downtown business beat continues producing more real estate deals.

In Friday's paper was the announcement two groups bought the side-by-side buildings formerly called the Sherwood Mall. In fact, the buildings were built in different eras, and are probably best managed as two different structures.

The smaller building is the corner building once known as the home of First National Bank. It's at the corner of Riverside and Stevens.

That building was acquired by an investors group that includes Spokane Chiefs and Spokane Indians owner Bobby Brett, and area developer Chris Batten.

Brett is general manager of 1953 Box LLC, the company owning the corner building … and the name refers to the year this building went up, in 1953. The earlier building that sat there was not two stories. We'll go hunting for the historic photo of that bank that later was torn down.

The plan is to rebrand the building as the Numerica Building, and Numerica Credit Union will take most of the main floor. The rendering here, provided by nystrom + olson archiecture, shows  the exterior of the building after remodeling.

The  “real” Sherwood building, at 510 W. Riverside,was purchased by an LLC called Sure Would, whose principal is  Tom Clemson, the president of Inland Group.

Here's a lesson in market timing. Sterling Financial, which bought the two buildings back in the 1970s, sold them in 2007 to a North Idaho doctors' group, for $3.7 million.

This past month, Clemson's group paid $800,000 for the eight-story building, while Box 1953 LLC paid $500,000 for the corner building. Certainly both properties will take some major renovation. But those are decent deals for good downtown real estate.

In 2010 the properties were assessed at $2.7 million together.

Sterling Financial had a solid 4Q and a very decent fiscal 2012

IN case you missed on Thursday, Spokane's Sterling Financial Corp. had a good 4Q earnings report.

The company, which operates Sterling Savings Bank, announced it booked net income of $20.9 million, or 33 cents per diluted common share, compared to $30.6 million, or 49 cents per diluted common share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2012, and $14.8 million or 24 cents per diluted common share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011.

For the year Sterling recorded net income of $385.7 million, or $6.14 per diluted common share, compared to $39.1 million, or 63 cents per diluted common share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2011.

The 2012 annual net income included an income tax benefit of $292 million associated with the release of a deferred tax asset valuation allowance.

Here are some other bullet points, borrowed from TheStreet.com:

  • Portfolio loan originations for the quarter were $561.7 million, a 23 percent increase over the prior quarter.
  • Income from mortgage banking operations for the year was $96.9 million, up 85 percent over 2011.
  • Nonperforming assets to total assets was 2.28 percent, down from 2.73 percent at September 30, 2012, and 4.01 percent at December 31, 2011.
  • A total of $40.4 million, or 65 cents per share, was returned to shareholders during the fourth quarter of 2012 through payment of a 15 cent per share regular dividend, a 35 cents per share special dividend and the accelerated payment of the 15 cents regular dividend that would have otherwise been paid during the first quarter of 2013.
  • During the fourth quarter, Sterling announced the signing of definitive agreements to acquire American Heritage Holdings and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Borrego Springs Bank of California.

Sterling to acquire three branches of Boston Private in Puget Sound

To read the complete story, go to Spokesman.com later Monday evening or read it in Tuesday's printed editions.

Spokane’s Sterling Savings Bank has purchased the Puget Sound operations of publicly traded Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc.

Boston Private, a national financial services group that owns wealth management and private bank affiliates in Boston, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, has operated three branches in the Seattle area.

It acquired the branches in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond in 2007 from financially distressed Charter Bank.

Sterling Savings CFO Patrick Rusnak said the acquisition made sense for both sides; Boston Private felt the branches were too distant from its East Coast offices; and Sterling considers Seattle one of its prime areas for continuing growth.

Sterling currently has 15 branches in the greater Seattle area, including in Bellevue and Redmond, Rusnak said.

One of Sterling Bank’s Seattle branches is in the same building as Boston Private’s, Rusnak said.

Sterling will pay about $96 million, Rusnak said, which covers an $11 million “premium” and the difference between the branches’ total loans and deposits.

The sale is expected to close in the first half of 2013 pending regulatory review.

Heidi Stanley’s discrimination lawsuit against Sterling Bank is still active

The discrimation lawsuit filed by former Sterling Bank CEO Heidi Stanley remains active in Spokane's County Superior Court.  Stanley is suing her former employer for wrongful termination, saying she lost her job after being diagnosed with breast cancer in spring 2009.

Sterling officials say the illness has nothing to do with Stanley leaving the company.

That departure or dismissal occurred right in the middle of Sterling's efforts to dig out of a deep financial pit. It ended up taking a huge investment through the TARP  (troubled assets relief program).

The recent legal development worth noting is a U.S. District Court ruling against Sterling, who had made a motion to dismiss the suit, arguing that the bank could not provide Stanley any compensation for her departure because of conditions imposed by virtue of the TARP money Sterling took from the feds.

But the court didn't buy the Sterling legal argument. The net result is that Stanley's wrongful termination suit can proceed.

Read to the next section to get a segment from the recent U.S. District Court ruling (the issue of TARP condition dragged this motion into federal court, while the termination action can be pursued at the state court level).

Sterling to buy Vancouver, Wash.-based bank

Sterling Financial Corporation of Spokane announced this morning that Sterling Savings Bank plans to buy First Independent Bank of Vancouver, Wash., including all deposits and banking operations, 14 branches in southeastern Washington and two offices in Portland. The purchase is expected to be completed early next year, subject to approval by regulators.

“We are pleased to welcome First Independent employees and clients into the Sterling family,” Greg Seibly, president and CEO of Sterling Financial, said in a prepared statement. “First Independent is an important strategic addition for Sterling … (and) provides an attractive opportunity to acquire a healthy community bank franchise within our identified strategic growth footprint along the I-5 corridor.”

Sterling will initially pay $8 million in addition to the net value of the acquired assets and assumed liabilities at the time of closing. Sterling has agreed to pay First Independent an additional premium of up to $17 million over an 18-month period following closing based on the credit performance of the acquired loans and the amount of any reductions in core deposits and wealth management income.

First Independent will retain about $49 million of existing loans and $34 million of other assets identified by Sterling, which Sterling did not seek to acquire. Sterling will assume all of First Independent’s deposits and certain customary obligations relating to its banking business, but no other material liabilities in the transaction.

Sterling wins outstanding Washington state civic business award

Two companies from Spokane and Tacoma have received Secretary of State Sam Reed's  most prestigious civics award for businesses in Washington state.

Reed will present the 2011 Corporations for Communities awards to Spokane-based Sterling Savings Bank and Korsmo Consruction at a ceremony on Nov. 2.
 
The awards are part of an annual recognition hosted by Washington's Secretary of State for companies making outstanding commitments to their communities.
 
Sterling was the winner of the large-company category while Korsmo was honored in the small-company sector.
 
Sterling and Korsmo Construction “stood out thanks to their impressive records of community involvement,” Reed said in announcing the awards. “Both are very deserving of this honor as a result of their dedication to volunteerism and their communities.”
 
Sterling was recognized as the prime sponsor of the Spokane Symphony Labor Day Comstock concert, and for its employees donating more than 27,000 hours to Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, United Way, regional food banks and other community activities.
 
 
Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/business/2011/10/20/korsmo-of-tacoma-sterling-of-spokane-named-as-winners-of-secretary-of-states-community-service-awards/#ixzz1bLg3mZsk

Former Sterling branch manager barred

A former Sterling Savings Bank branch manager in Klamath Falls, Ore., has been barred from the banking industry.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. issued the order against Shannon Kuhlman last month.

Kuhlman allegedly engaged in unsound banking practices that will inflict, or probably inflict, significant losses on the Spokane bank. In doing so, she either acted dishonestly, the FDIC says, or in willful disregard of sound banking practices.

Kuhlman's actions make her unfit to work for a bank, or vote proxies in banks or other financial institutions, the FDIC order says, noting that she did not admit or deny any of the alleged behavior.

Sterling spokeswoman Cara Coon said the bank would have no comment, except to note Kuhlman lef the bank in 2008.

No additional information was available from the FDIC, or Washington Department of Financial Institutions.

Sterling, after taking major losses on real estate and construction lending, recapitalized last August. 

Dickinson takes Sterling post

Marty Dickinson is leaving the Downtown Spokane Partnership to become senior vice president and corporate marketing communications executive at Sterling Savings Bank.

Her last day at the DSP, where she has been president for six years, will be July 1.

Marla Nunbeg was named interim president by the DSP executive board of directors.

Dickinson said the opportunity to work for Sterling, a Fortune 500 company, was one she could not pass up, but added that the decision was a difficult one.

“There are a few lucky individuals that have the chance to have a job they love so much that it is really not a job at all,” she said.

Dickinson said she takes particular satisfaction in development downtown, and in the University District.

DSP Board Chairman Mark Aden noted Dickinson's efforts to find new housing for low-income residents displaced by redevelopment at the Madison and Otis apartments.

 

Bad Hair Bandit robs Moses Lake bank

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A serial bank robber dubbed “the Bad Hair Bandit” is believed to have robbed a bank in Moses Lake on Tuesday.

 A wigged woman matching the description of the robber thought to be responsible for 14 bank robberies since December entered Sterling Savings Bank and demanded money but did not display a weapon, according to the Associated Press.  A picture from a February robbery is at left.

The method matches that of the Bad Hair Bandit, who police believed robbed Chase Bank on Francis Avenue in Spokane last month after robbing banks in Ellensburg and Moses Lake in late April.

The FBI believes the same woman may have also robbed two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.

Enjoy a slide show of photos from the 14-bank robbery spree above.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her capture. Anyone with information should call at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Sterling names Andrew Schultheis general counsel

Andrew Schultheis has been appointed executive vice president and general counsel at Sterling Financial Corp.

Schultheis, 40, has been outside counsel to Sterling, the parent of Sterling Savings Bank, while with  Witherspoon Kelley.

Before joining the Spokane law firm in 2005, Schultheis practiced with a Silicon Valley(Calif.) firm representing clients such as Cisco Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp.

The graduate of Whitman College and the University of Michigan law school is also a member of the Connect Northwest and Inland Northwest Land Trust boards of directors.  

Happy ending at Sterling? An insiders’ view at Executive Connect Breakfast

If you need to catch up on the long, stressful road Sterling Savings Bank followed to survive and not fall victim to the FDIC axe, the best chance comes on Tuesday at the next Executive Connect Breakfast.

Sterling's Greg Seibly and Ezra Eckhardt will present an overview and summary of how Spokane-based Sterling managed to find investors and survive what could have been a messy, unfortunate (for this area) takeover.
 
It runs from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Georgian Ballroom of the Spokane Club, in downtown.
 
Seibly is the bank's CEO and president; Eckhardt is COO.
 
Registration is $30 at this link. For more information, contact Catherine Greer at catherineg@connectnw.org or 509.358.2114.

Sterling reports smaller loss

Sterling Financial Corp. today reported smaller fourth quarter and annual losses.

The net loss for the quarter was $38.1 million, down from $48 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30 and $328.7 million for the 2009 fourth quarter.

For the year, Sterling's net loss was $224.3 million, compared with $838.1 million for 2009.

After adjustments related to its $730 million recapitalization in August, the quarterly  loss atttributable to common shareholdes was $642.7 million, or $12.79 per common share. For the 2009 fourth quarter, Sterling reported a loss of $333.1 million, or $423.17 per common share.

The annual net loss was $756.1 million, or $53.05 per share, compared with $855.5 milion, or $1,087.41 per common share in 2009.

Total assets were $9.5 billion, compared with $10 billion as of Sept. 30 and $10.9 billion as of Dec. 31, 2009.