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Local Bank of America branches to be sold

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NCW — Say bye-bye here to Bank of America.

Seven branches of one of North Central Washington’s top banks will have a new owner by year’s end when Seattle-based Washington Federal buys 19 BofA branches in Eastern Washington and 32 more in Oregon, Idaho and New Mexico.

Regional branches in the deal include the two in Wenatchee and those in Leavenworth, Chelan, Omak, Quincy and Moses Lake. In an announcement late Thursday, Washington Federal executives said all BofA employees would be offered employment with the new owner and both Wenatchee branches would remain open.

We’ve been wanting to have a presence in Eastern Washington for years,” Washington Federal CEO Roy Whitehead said this morning. “Bank of America’s doing some restructuring, which gives us the chance to serve customers in North Central Washington in one fell swoop. We think folks will find it easier to relate to a bank based in the Pacific Northwest.”

If approved by federal regulators, Seattle-based Washington Federal, with $13 billion in assets and 185 branches in eight western states, will pay around $45 million in the deal to acquire $1.8 billion in total deposits, $11 million in loans and each bank branch’s real estate.

The deal is expected to close sometime in December, said Whitehead, when BofA customers would automatically become Washington Federal clients. New signs would begin going up that day, too. “Every effort will be made to minimize disruptions to customer banking routines,” said Whitehead. “It should be a smooth transition. Plus, existing clients will benefit from the added convenience of over 50 new banking locations.”

Washington Federal began operations in 1917 as a savings and loan operation in Ballard and went public in 1982. The company recently reported a 5.8 percent earnings increase for the first nine months of its fiscal year. On Wednesday, Washington Federal completed its conversion with the Federal Reserve to become a national bank and holding company, a charter process initiated before the just-announced BofA purchases.

On Wednesday, Bank of America, the second largest in the U.S., reported a 63 percent gain in net income in its second quarter as the company continues to cut costs and stabilize revenues in its recovery from millions in bad loans in the housing industry collapse of 2008.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.

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