AmericanWest to buy Columbia Trust

Spokane-based AmericanWest Bancorp. said it has agreed to acquire Pasco-based Columbia Trust Bancorp. in a deal valued at $37.5 million.

Columbia Trust has four branches and assets of $218 million as of Oct. 31.

The deal has been approved by the boards of directors of both banks, but it still must be approved by regulatory agencies and the banks’ shareholders. If approved, it would close in the first quarter of 2006.

Martin Ottem, president and CEO of Columbia Trust, will retire upon completion of the deal, AmericanWest said in a press release.

AmericanWest had assets of $1.1 billion as of Sept. 30. If the acquisition of Columbia Trust is approved, the bank’s assets would grow to about $1.4 billion.

Local ad agency gets new name

As of today, longtime Spokane advertising agency WhiteRunkle will be renamed Miller.WhiteRunkle, following the purchase of the company by agency partner Ed. Miller.

Miller became sole owner, president and CEO of WhiteRunkle on October 1. Former co-owners Jack White and Bob Runkle have retired.

The ad agency employs 50 people and has offices in Seattle and Atlanta, as well as in Spokane. It was founded in 1980 as Clark-White-Saugen.

BPA hearing tonight on new rates

The Bonneville Power Administration will hold a public hearing in Spokane tonight to take comments on its proposed rates for 2007 through 2009.

The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park, 303 W. North River Drive.

The BPA is a nonprofit federal agency that provides power to many local utilities, including Inland Power and Light, Vera Water and Power, Modern Electric Water and Kootenai Electric Cooperative.

The agency has proposed an adjustable wholesale rate that would average about $30 per megawatt-hour over the course of three-year rate period. The BPA has said the rate would be adjusted based on weather and market conditions. Ongoing litigation over the impacts of federal dams on migrating salmon also could push up rates, BPA officials have said.

The Northwest Coalition for Affordable Power, formed just two months ago, has 200 members representing government agencies, businesses, public utilities and other organizations, the group said in a news release. The coalition is pushing for the BPA to set a target wholesale rate of $27 per megawatt-hour, saying Northwest communities and businesses cannot afford ever-increasing power rates.

IRS sounds warning about bogus e-mail

Washington The nation’s tax collectors warned consumers Wednesday not to be fooled by a bogus e-mail that appears to come from the Internal Revenue Service and promises a tax refund.

The e-mail is an identity theft “phishing” scam that attempts to fool recipients into revealing personal and financial information. The e-mail directs recipients to a link that requests information such as a Social Security number and credit card information.

Identity thieves could use the personal data to steal a taxpayer’s identity, use the taxpayer’s credit cards, apply for additional credit cards or loans and do other financial damage.

The IRS said it does not ask for personal identification or financial information through unsolicited e-mails. Taxpayers do not have to complete a special form to collect a refund.

Taxpayers can contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to find out whether the agency is trying to contact them about a refund.

HealthSouth fraud accusations thrown out

Birmingham, Ala. The judge in the government’s civil lawsuit over the huge earnings overstatement at HealthSouth Corp. threw out fraud claims against fired CEO Richard Scrushy, who was previously acquitted on criminal charges in the scheme.

U.S. District Judge Inge P. Johnson said the two fraud counts contained in the suit — the third version of the case filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission — weren’t specific enough.

“The second amended complaint contains argument, speculations, hypotheticals, and perhaps an outline of closing statements, none of which are appropriate in a complaint,” Johnson said in a 15-page ruling late Tuesday.

She gave prosecutors 15 days to refile the fraud counts.

Johnson refused to dismiss five other claims against Scrushy, who is still accused of aiding and abetting in false financial reporting, false record keeping and failing to maintain proper internal controls at HealthSouth.

The SEC has said it is seeking $785 million in civil penalties against Scrushy, but it wasn’t immediately clear how Johnson’s ruling could affect the possible fines and forfeitures he could be ordered to pay.

Krispy Kreme likely to miss report deadline

Charlotte, N.C. A number-by-number revision of flawed financial statements dating back four years will probably keep Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. from meeting a Dec. 15 deadline set by its lenders for submitting the overdue reports, the company’s interim chief executive said Wednesday.

“To ensure they are properly stated and accounted for, it gets done at a very molecular level,” turnaround specialist Stephen Cooper told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from the company’s Winston-Salem headquarters.

“The whole objective here is to ensure that when they come out, the statements are the statements,” he said. “Our plan is to get it right and not be careless and rush it.”

Cooper took over the formerly trendy doughnut chain earlier this year, following the ouster of CEO Scott Livengood and other top executives.

Click here to comment on this story »



Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(509) 747-4422
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile