U.S. Bancorp of Portland was thwarted in efforts to expand into Idaho this year but may still have its sights set on acquiring West One Bank of Boise, an analyst says.
U.S. Bancorp, the largest independent bank based in the Northwest with assets of $14.9 billion, owns U.S. Bank of Washington and U.S. Bank of Oregon and operates three branches in Utah.It struck a deal to expand to Idaho last year by purchasing Norban Financial Group of Coeur d'Alene, but the deal fell apart this year when W.T.B. Financial Corp. of Spokane countered with a higher bid to Norban shareholders.
"They should have been in Idaho yesterday, or last year," said R. Jay Tejera, an analyst with Dain Bosworth Inc. in Seattle. "The longer they wait, the greater the odds are that someone else is going to beat them to the best opportunity.
"I think they saw a contingency plan in the purchase of Norban," Tejera said. "It was Plan B, an opportunity to fall back on until they could get Plan A executed."
Plan A, Tejera told The Spokesman-Review newspaper, is to acquire West One Bank, which has about 35 percent of the Idaho market and owns a $600 million asset branch network in Utah.
U.S. Bancorp officials won't comment on any interest in acquiring West One, and West One officials discount the possibility.
"I think we're too large for them, and the price would be too high, too diluting to their shareholders," said West One President Mike Jones.
West One, with assets of almost $4 billion, already has a big presence in Idaho and Utah and is expanding aggressively in Oregon and Washington.
Scott McAdams, an analyst and vice president of Ragen MacKenzie Inc. in Seattle, said U.S. Bancorp has the resources to buy West One.
"It would be a really big fish for them to swallow," McAdams said. "But if they wanted to be in Idaho badly enough, they could do it."
McAdams said that both West One and U.S. Bancorp are good takeover targets.
Tejera predicted hostile takeovers would increase in the banking industry and said acquiring West One could be part of a strategy by U.S. Bancorp to maintain its independence.
He said growth leaps, while maintaining a high stock value, are the best way for U.S. Bancorp to stay independent.
U.S. Bancorp officials say the bank will expand to Idaho when the time is right.
"The focus of the company right now is to increase profitability and reduce non-performing assets," said Donald Bowler Jr., vice president of investor relations. "That's the main thrust of our activities in 1989. We have no timetable for Idaho."