Heritage Bank completes merger with Washington

rboone@theolympian.comMay 1, 2014 

The parent company to Heritage Bank has finally merged with Washington Banking Co. of Oak Harbor, completing the largest merger in the history of the Olympia financial institution.

The deal, valued at about $266 million at its close, creates a company with 67 branches, more than 800 employees and $3.5 billion in assets.

The combined company will operate as Heritage Bank, although six branches on Whidbey Island will continue to be called Whidbey Island Bank.

Washington Banking Co. is the parent company to Whidbey Island Bank.

The merger was announced last year and then worked its way through the regulatory process before shareholders from both companies, finally and overwhelmingly, voted to approve the merger.

Heritage Financial Corp. President and CEO Brian Vance said it was the largest merger in the 87-year history of Heritage Bank.

“It gives us the scale to continue to grow and prosper in the future,” Vance said of the deal.

“I see lots of positive momentum by bringing these two companies together.”

And the need for growth was the impetus behind the deal, with both companies wanting to stimulate future earnings-per-share growth, something bank officials thought wasn’t going to happen as stand-alone financial institutions.

Meanwhile, Heritage also reported first-quarter earnings after the market closed Tuesday.

Net income fell in the quarter as a result of merger-related expenses to $2.5 million, or 16 cents a share, compared with net income of $2.9 million, or 19 cents a share, from the same quarter a year ago. The company had a good quarter, Vance said, citing loan growth, which on an annualized basis, rose 6.8 percent.

The economy continues to improve, he added, saying he’d rather have slow and steady growth compared with the volatile nature of double-digit growth.

Heritage Financial’s stock, which trades under the ticker symbol HFWA, fell a penny Wednesday to close at $16.16 a share.

In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged between $13.25 a share and $18.64 a share.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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