First Hawaiian To Buy U.S. Bank Branches

PORTLAND - First Hawaiian Inc., Hawaii's oldest bank, will buy 30 branches in the Pacific Northwest from U.S. Bancorp for about $38 million in cash, beefing up its mainland presence, the companies said.

U.S. Bancorp said in October it would sell the branches - 25 in Oregon, four in central Washington and one in Idaho - to avoid antitrust challenges to its proposed acquisition of Idaho-based West One Bancorp, which is due to take place by the end of the year.

First Hawaiian, which opened an automobile financing unit in California in April, has 82 bank and thrift branches.

All of the branches are in its home state, which has one of the nation's weakest economies.

"Hawaii will always be our base, and we expect our Hawaii operations to grow and become more profitable," said Walter Dods Jr., First Hawaiian's chief executive.

"But this purchase will strengthen that earnings base and diversify our income," Dods said.

The 30 branches have about $720 million in deposits, and First Hawaiian will also acquire $457 million in loans, plus other assets, at book value.

The sale should be completed by the middle of next year, the banks said.

Sixteen of the branches are in and around Portland, where U.S. Bancorp is based.

First Hawaiian, with assets of $7.4 billion, operates the 63-branch First Hawaiian Bank, founded in 1858, and the 19-branch Pioneer Federal Savings Bank.

It is the second-biggest bank based in Hawaii in terms of assets, trailing Bancorp Hawaii Inc., with $12.5 billion.

First Hawaiian shares closed unchanged yesterday at $29.25. The stock has gained 23 percent this year, less than most U.S. banks.

U.S. Bancorp also said it will sell another branch, in Bellingham, to the Bank of Bellingham, a closely held company, for an undisclosed price.