July 30, 2008 in Business

AmericanWest CEO steps down

Daugherty leaves at behest of board of directors
By The Spokesman-Review
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Robert Daugherty, president and chief executive officer of troubled AmericanWest Bancorporation, has resigned at the request of the company’s board of directors.

Patrick Rusnak, executive vice president and chief operating officer, will take over the senior positions while a special committee organized by the board searches for a replacement.

The resignation was requested late Thursday. Earlier in the day, an emotional Daugherty and other officers reviewed with analysts the ugly details of a second-quarter earnings report with a bottom-line net loss of $6.2 million. It was the third consecutive quarter loss for the Spokane-based bank. Much of the damage stemmed from losses taken on loans written by Far West Bank, a Provo, Utah, institution that AmericanWest purchased in 2007 for $150 million.

Daugherty, who has an extensive background in Utah banking, was a strong supporter of the deal.

He joined AmericanWest in 2004, and immediately set about restructuring management and addressing financial and reporting problems. Results were good until AmericanWest, like many other banks with a significant proportion of their loans to builders and developers, began to feel the effects of the housing downturn.

Rusnak said the sinking economy overtook the bank’s plan for working through problem loans.

His priority, he said, will be seeking new investment in the AmericanWest that will restore a rating of “well-capitalized” by all three regulatory measures. The bank is about $6 million short by one measure, he said, noting the total capital is about $200 million.

Also Tuesday, the bank announced that Rich Shamberger, executive vice president and chief credit officer, had rescinded his resignation and will remain with the bank. AmericanWest’s stock closed Tuesday at $1.25 a share, down 28 percent, though it recovered slightly in after-hours trading. The stock has traded as high as $20.96 in the past 12 months.

Contact Bert Caldwell at (509) 459-5450 or bertc@spokesman.com.

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