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Sterling to acquire Puget-area branches

Tue., Dec. 18, 2012

Spokane’s Sterling Savings Bank has agreed to buy the Puget Sound-area 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. The company acquired branches in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond in 2007 from financially distressed Charter Bank.

Sterling Savings Chief Financial Officer Patrick Rusnak said the acquisition made sense for both sides. Boston Private officials felt the branches were too distant from the company’s East Coast offices and Sterling considers Seattle one of its prime areas for growth.

Earlier this year Sterling also concluded a purchase of First Independent Bank, which added a number of branches in Portland.

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.

Rusnak said the branches’ aggregate loans of roughly $270 million are 40 percent commercial real estate, 30 percent commercial, 25 percent residential housing, with the rest comprised of personal lending.

“This transaction is in perfect alignment with our strategic focus on building out our commercial banking presence in key West Coast metropolitan areas,” Greg Seibly, president and CEO of Sterling Financial, said in a prepared statement.

Once approved, the three branches will be branded as Sterling Bank.

Some consolidation and reduction of jobs is likely if the deal is approved, Rusnak said.

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