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AmericanWest suspends dividends

AmericanWest Bancorporation posted a second-quarter net loss of $6.2 million, suspended its quarterly dividend and said it was looking for ways to raise capital.

Spokane-based AmericanWest said it does not expect to reinstitute a dividend before 2009. It paid a dividend of 4 cents a share in the previous quarter.

The quarterly loss came to 36 cents a share, compared with first-quarter 2007 earnings of $4.5 million, or 26 cents a share.

Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets were 2.3 percent in the quarter compared with 1.9 percent in the same quarter of 2007.

The bank hired Sandler O’Neill + Partners LP to serve as financial adviser in an effort to raise new capital. A previously planned public offering of up to $34.5 million in capital securities was suspended due to “adverse market conditions,” the company said in a release.

The company’s stock traded at $1.66 at the end of Friday’s session. That’s 6 cents above the stock’s 52-week low.

Coeur d’alene

Interest rates hurt Mountain West

Mountain West Bank, based in Coeur d’Alene, reported second-quarter earnings Friday of $3.1 million, compared with $3.8 million in the same period last year.

Mountain West’s earnings for the first six months of 2008 were $5.9 million, compared to earnings of $6.9 million for the first half of 2007.

Mountain West Bank CEO Jon Hippler said in a release: “The increase to the (bank’s) reserve and a tightening of the bank’s net interest margin, especially in the first quarter as a result of rapid reductions in the short term interest rates by the Federal Reserve, caused earnings to be lower than the previous year.”

Mountain West is one of 10 community banks operated by Glacier Bancorp Inc., of Kalispell, Mont.

Glacier Bancorp’s second-quarter earnings for 2008 came to $18.5 million, or 34 cents a share, up 10 percent from earnings of $16.7 million, or 31 cents a share, from the second quarter of 2007.


Plant considered for solar panels

The pending closure of the Hynix computer chip plant in Eugene may lead to the opening of a solar power component factory.

Jack Roberts, head of the Lane Metro Partnership business recruitment agency, confirmed what Gov. Ted Kulongoski told the Register-Guard newspaper earlier this week – that negotiations with solar power companies are under way.

Roberts said the possible conversion of the Hynix plant makes sense because manufacturing solar power components is very similar to making computer chips.

But he warned the talks are still preliminary.

Hynix announced this week it is closing its Eugene plant over the next three months, putting more than 1,100 employees and 300 contract workers out of a job.


Chrysler to stop leasing vehicles

Chrysler LLC said Friday its financial arm will get out of the auto leasing business by the end of the month because economic conditions have made leasing more expensive than buying, for both consumers and the company.

From staff and wire reports