Issaquah Community Bank to merge with three others

October 6, 2009

By David Hayes

Issaquah Community Bank is merging with three other regional banks to form the Bank of the Northwest. The merger includes The Bank of Everett, The Bank of Bellevue and The Bank of Tacoma and should be complete by the end of the year if it is given regulatory approval by government officials.The majority owner of the four branches is Capitol Bancorp Limited, which will operate the Washington banks under a single charter. Capitol’s majority ownership has meant that the four community banks were operating from the same policies and technology platforms.

Right now, Issaquah Community Bank and the others are working off of the same technology platform, but the merger will increase each bank’s efficiency, said Robert Ittes, president and chief executive officer of Issaquah Community Bank.

“Staffing is going to remain the same,” he said. “The same local folks that we’ve had all along will still be serving the Issaquah community. That is not going to change.”

The merger does offer the opportunity to join with other local banks, though, which will help shelter them from the financial crisis.

“Really, it is a unique opportunity that we have as an organization, because of common ownership of the four banks,” he said. “We can try to address the financial times we are currently in. We have the opportunity to increase our efficiency and be profitable.

“It allows us to strengthen our position, both in terms of capital and earnings.”

Aside from that, not much will change for Issaquah residents, he said.

“Our goal is to provide banking practices in support of our community,” he said. “We don’t know how long this financial crisis will go on, but I think, at the end of the day, we are going to learn that it is really important to make sure that you have a very solid relationship with your banker. That is the banking I am committed to, always have been and will continue to be.”

Thomas Giovanelli, of Capitol, will be the new chairman, president and chief executive of Bank of the Northwest.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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