Latest from The Spokesman-Review
OLYMPIA — Governors from Washington and Colorado sent a letter to federal banking officials trying to get them to get a move on and develop rules for recreational marijuana businesses.
In their joint letter (insert expected marijuana joke here), Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper reminded the heads of the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration and the comptroller of the currency of a letter the governors sent last October, asking for banking policies in line with the Justice Department's memo on marijuana in states that have legalized it.
The banking officials, or their predecessors, responded last November with their own joint letter (insert second marijuana joke here) and issued some guidance in February on marijuana businesses. But they have yet to come up with instructions to banks and credit unions on how to provide banking services to state-licensed marijuana businesses.
"In the meantime, product sales have begun in Colorado and will soon begin in Washington, exposing all involved to significant risks of criminal activity associated with accepting, storing and transporting large quantities of cash that can be ameliorated by access to the banking system," the governors wrote.
They asked bank officials "expeditiously" provide guidance to the banking institutions.
Washington expects to have some recreational marijuana stores open in late June or early July.
Umpqua Bank's dress code isn't quite as relaxed.
Make of that what you will.
After a long and contentious legal battle and more than three years in bankruptcy, Washington Mutual Inc. has won court approval of a reorganization plan, the Associated Press reports.
A Delaware judge who had twice rejected reorganization plans filed by Washington Mutual approved the company’s latest plan today.
As with its earlier proposals, Washington Mutual’s plan is based on WMI, JPMorgan Chase and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. settling lawsuits they filed against one another after the collapse of Seattle-based Washington Mutual Bank and the sale of its assets to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion. It was the largest bank failure in U.S. history.
The plan calls for some $7 billion to be distributed to creditors and includes significant recoveries for shareholders, who often are left with nothing in bankruptcy cases.
Sterling Financial Corporation of Spokane announced this morning that Sterling Savings Bank plans to buy First Independent Bank of Vancouver, Wash., including all deposits and banking operations, 14 branches in southeastern Washington and two offices in Portland. The purchase is expected to be completed early next year, subject to approval by regulators.
“We are pleased to welcome First Independent employees and clients into the Sterling family," Greg Seibly, president and CEO of Sterling Financial, said in a prepared statement. "First Independent is an important strategic addition for Sterling … (and) provides an attractive opportunity to acquire a healthy community bank franchise within our identified strategic growth footprint along the I-5 corridor.”
Sterling will initially pay $8 million in addition to the net value of the acquired assets and assumed liabilities at the time of closing. Sterling has agreed to pay First Independent an additional premium of up to $17 million over an 18-month period following closing based on the credit performance of the acquired loans and the amount of any reductions in core deposits and wealth management income.
First Independent will retain about $49 million of existing loans and $34 million of other assets identified by Sterling, which Sterling did not seek to acquire. Sterling will assume all of First Independent’s deposits and certain customary obligations relating to its banking business, but no other material liabilities in the transaction.
AmericanWest Bank plans to buy a Seattle-based bank for $7.2 million in a move that gives the Spokane institution a larger footprint in Western Washington.
Viking Bank has seven branches, assets valued at $406 million and deposits totaling $379 million. The agreement still requires federal regulatory approval, but is expected to close by the end of this year.
AmericanWest has 63 branches in Washington, Idaho, California and Utah. Earlier this year it acquired Bank of the Northwest, which has offices in the Puget Sound region. It also agreed over the summer to buy Sunrise Bank, a Southern California institution.
AmericanWest has about $2 billion in assets and deposits of $1.6 billion.
The financial terms of the deal, characterized as a merger, call for shareholders of Viking to receive $7.2 million in cash, or $2.65 a share.
About 41.7 percent of the bank’s shareholders have agreed to vote all of their shares in favor of the merger, according to a statement issued by AmericanWest Bank on Thursday morning.
NEW YORK — Wells Fargo plans to test a $3 monthly fee for its debit cards starting this fall.
The San Francisco-based bank said the fee will be applied to checking accounts opened in five states starting in October, according to the Associated Press. The fee would be in addition to monthly service fees ranging from $5 to $30 that Wells Fargo already charges.
Although it’s unusual, Wells Fargo isn’t the first major bank to test whether customers will be willing to pay to use their debit cards. Chase last year also began testing a $3 monthly debit card fee in northern Wisconsin.
Other major banks have also revamped their lineup of checking accounts in the past year or so, in many cases by hiking monthly fees or adding conditions customers must meet to qualify for fee waivers.
At Wells Fargo, for example, monthly service fees can be waived if customers set up direct deposit or maintain a certain minimum balances.
Spokane-based Northwest Bancorporation, Inc., the bank holding company for Inland Northwest Bank, today reported a net loss of $249,000 for the second quarter of the year, compared to a profit of $269,000 for the same quarter in 2010.
After accrual of dividends on preferred stock and related adjustments, the net loss for common shareholders was $418,000 compared to a profit of $100,000 a year ago.
This represents a loss of 14 cents per share for the quarter, compared to a gain of 4 cents per share in the second quarter last year.
Randall L. Fewel, President and CEO of the company and the bank, said in a prepared statement, "The road to full recovery from the worst recession in 90 years is indeed a long and bumpy one. As a result of a higher level of charged-off loans, and after an analysis of the adequacy of the loan loss reserve, management decided to expense $1.5 million into the reserve during the second quarter this year compared to $950,000 during the same quarter last year. That difference of $581,000 drove the decline in profitability for the quarter."
Fewel said on a positive note, total impaired loans decreased $3.7 million, or 10.1 percent, from Dec. 31, 2010, to June 30, dropping from $37.2 million to $33.5 million. Also, foreclosed real estate dropped $634,000, or 16 percent during that six-month period, from $4 million to $3.3 million, he noted.
Sterling Financial Corporation, the bank holding company of Sterling Savings Bank, earned $7.6 million in the second quarter, or 12 cents per share, the Spokane-based company said today.
The net income is compares to $5.4 million, or 9 cents per share, for the first quarter, and a loss of $58.2 million, or $73.91 per share, for the second quarter of 2010.
Loan originations in the second quarter were $883 million, a 41 percent increase over the previous quarter.
Nonperforming assets declined by $131.3 million, or 21 percent, for the quarter.
Greg Seibly, Sterling’s president and CEO, said in a prepared statement, “Sterling’s earnings growth for the quarter was a result of net interest margin expansion and growth of non-interest income. The margin expansion was a function of growth of the loan portfolio and the success of our deposit strategy, which reduced the cost of deposits by 10 basis points for the quarter. The loan growth was a result of higher loan production, which outpaced the significant reduction in nonperforming assets. Our production teams are continuing to generate momentum as we enter the second half of the year.”
Spokane-based Numerica Credit Union has named a new chief executive officer: Carla Altepeter, the longtime CEO of CitizensFirst Credit Union in Oshkosh, Wisc.
Altepeter replaces Dennis Cutter, who will retire Aug. 31 after 40 years as Numerica’s president and CEO.
Altepeter has served as president and CEO of CitizensFirst since 1992. She will begin at Numerica Sept. 1.
Her commitment to that community was most appealing to the Numerica board of directors, Cutter said in a news release this morning.
“Her most notable quality is her strong belief in the philosophy of ‘people helping people,’” he said. “These qualities run parallel to those of Numerica, making her a perfect fit.”
Numerica has more than 90,000 members throughout Central and Eastern Washington and North Idaho and more than $1 billion in assets.
WILMINGTON, Del. — Bank holding company Washington Mutual Inc. is asking a Delaware judge to approve its revised reorganization plan.
The judge convened a three-day hearing today to consider the plan, which centers on the settlement of lawsuits pitting Washington Mutual, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and JPMorgan against one another, the Associated Press reported.
The lawsuits were filed after the FDIC seized WaMu’s flagship bank in 2008 and sold its assets to JPMorgan in the largest bank failure in U.S. history.
The judge ruled in January that the proposed settlement was reasonable but refused to confirm WaMu’s plan until changes were made.
Washington Mutual shareholders oppose the new plan, saying it favors hedge funds who dominated negotiations with JPMorgan for their own gain and used inside information from the bankruptcy to trade in Washington Mutual securities.
Spokane Valley-based Horizon Credit Union has moved its Post Falls branch to 920 N. Highway 41, Suite 10. The doors to the new branch open today.
The branch was relocated from 565 Vest St., south of Interstate 90. The new, 1,700-square-foot space on the north side of the freeway is in the River City Center retail complex.
“The new branch is more centrally located at Highway 41 and Mullan,” said Brian Grytdal, Horizon’s vice president of marketing, in a news release. “We think members and potential members will find the new location more convenient and easier to access.”
Grytdal said the new location also has additional services, including a drive-through, a deposit-taking ATM, and a self-service center with Internet access to Horizon’s website and Home Banking.
Branch hours remain Monday through Friday. 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Horizon Credit Union has been serving members since 1947, when it started as Kaiser Employees Federal Credit Union in Spokane. It has grown to 16 branches and more than 39,000 members.
Idaho is one of 23 states that will share in a multimillion-dollar national settlement with JP Morgan Chase & Co. over bid-rigging deals on public bond offerings. The Associated Press reports that J.P. Morgan Securities LLC made at least 93 secret deals with companies that handled the bidding processes in 31 states, allowing the bank to peek at competitors' offers in trying to secure investment business from state and local governments to invest bond proceeds before the bond-funded projects were fully paid for; the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission announced the deal today, under which the company will pay a total of $211 million, including $92 million to the 23 states and the District of Columbia.
Few Idaho entities were involved, according to the Idaho Attorney General's office; they'll be reimbursed for any losses; injunctive relief also will prevent such actions in the future. The other states are Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Click below for a full report from AP business writer Daniel Wagner in Washington, D.C.
Reversing a trend that began in the mid-1990s, big banks are imposing new fees on their least-profitable customers — those who want just a bare-bones checking account.
Those who can’t maintain fat balances, or who don’t use other services that would make them more lucrative to a bank, probably will need to cough up about $100 a year if they want to stay put.
But bank and credit union officials in Spokane say they have no immediate plans to eliminate free checking, even though pending Federal Reserve Bank regulations may force them to reconsider.
For details, read our coverage this weekend in Sunday Business.
Ezra A. Eckhardt, president and chief operating officer of Sterling Savings Bank, will visit Greater Spokane Incorporated this week to talk about how he helped lead the bank’s recapitalization project.
The BIZStreet “A Conversation With….” event will be Thursday from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
Attend to learn how Eckhardt overcame the largest obstacle in his career: the recapitalization of Sterling. Greater Spokane stated, "Glean insights on how his team executed an intricate, complex capital raise while the bank was under a stringent regulatory order, with seven quarters of operating losses, and how planning, determination, and execution translated into great team performance and renewed sense of purpose and resolve."
The cost to attend is $25 for GSI members and $50 for non-members.
Location: Greater Spokane Incorporated, 801 W. Riverside, Suite 100, Spokane.
A Spokane credit union says local consumers are reporting a phone scam aimed at tricking them to reveal debit and credit card information.
The STCU phone center today is inundated with calls from credit union members and some non-members who reported receiving official-sounding automated phone calls that supposedly come from STCU.
As of 10:30 a.m., more than 100 callers contacted STCU about the phone calls, spokesman Dan Hansen said.
The calls inform the recipients that “Your debit card (or credit card) has been deactivated.” They are asked to provide their debit or credit card number, PIN and expiration date, Hansen said.
The calls appear to be blanketing the region at random, as many of the recipients are not STCU members, he added.
STCU never calls its members asking for credit or debit card information, Hansen said.
Consumers should be wary of any call or e-mail seeking credit or debit card information or other sensitive personal information, Hansen said. These contacts often are scams perpetuated by people looking to commit identity theft.
Mountain West Bank CEO Jon Hippler will retire at the end of the year. Hippler, 66, has served as chief executive since the bank was founded in 1993 in Coeur d’Alene.
He will be replaced by Russ Porter, the bank’s president and chief operating officer. Porter will be replaced by Rod Colwell, who recently joined the bank’s executive team.
Mountain West Bank has 23 locations in Idaho, Eastern Washington and northern Utah. It’s the largest state-chartered bank in Idaho.
“We have been living in a difficult banking environment these last three years,” Hippler said in a news release. “As I leave, I’m confident that the leadership we have put in place and the nearly 400 employees of Mountain West will continue to not only deal effectively with ongoing challenges,but also take the bank forward to new heights as conditions continue to improve.”
Hippler grew up in Coeur d’Alene, graduated from Coeur d’ Alene High School and the University of Idaho, and served with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He will remain on the Mountain West Bank board of directors.