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AmericanWest trims losses

Federal, state provisions ordered in 2009 not met

Embattled Spokane-based AmericanWest Bancorp announced a smaller loss for the fourth quarter and the full year, but its nonperforming assets grew and the company said it hadn’t yet met two benchmarks ordered last year by federal and state regulators.

AmericanWest reported Friday it lost $17.7 million, or $1.03 per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to a loss of $57.7 million, or $3.35 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2008. AmericanWest lost $28.4 million, or $1.65 per share, in the third quarter last year.

For the year, the company reported a loss of $71.1 million, or $4.13 per share, compared with a loss of $192.4 million, or $11.18 per share, for 2008.

AmericanWest’s nonperforming assets were 9.6 percent of total assets on Dec. 31, compared with 5.7 percent of total assets at the same time the previous year. At the end of the third quarter, nonperforming assets were 8.9 percent.

The bank’s loans in default were 8.3 percent of total loans on Dec. 31, compared with 5.7 percent of total loans the same day the previous year.

AmericanWest said in a news release that the increase in nonperforming loans was mostly due to two soured commercial real estate loans, one on a lodging and entertainment complex in Utah and the other for a ski and golf facility in New Hampshire owned by a Utah-based company.

AmericanWest said it had another 6.3 percent of outstanding loans that haven’t been classified as nonperforming, but have been identified as “potential problem loans.”

The company said it hired Cappello Capital Corp. of Santa Monica., Calif., to help find investors. Cappello joins another firm, Sandler O’Neil, hired in 2008, in looking for more capital.

The California firm contacted AmericanWest, said the bank’s CEO Patrick Rusnak, in an e-mail.

Rusnak said he asked why Cappello was interested in helping. “They said they like our approach, our core deposit base … and how we’ve proactively dealt with nonperforming assets,” he noted.

He noted AmericanWest also continues working with Sandler O’Neil.

The bank reported that it has yet to meet two provisions contained in a regulatory cease-and-desist order that was imposed by the FDIC and the Washington Department of Financial Institutions last May. One concerns a capital ratio and the other a ratio of assets classified as substandard or doubtful.

AmericanWest’s stock price fell 18 percent Friday. It closed at 40 cents a share, down 9 cents.

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