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Originally published Friday, August 5, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Banking regulators close Bank of Whitman

Columbia State Bank in Tacoma has taken over assets of failed Colfax bank.

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Columbia Banking System in Tacoma on Friday bought all of the deposits and some assets of the Bank of Whitman in Colfax, Whitman County, making the Eastern Washington bank the third in the state to fail this year.

Federal regulators also shut on Friday a small bank in Illinois, lifting to 63 the number of U.S. bank failures this year.

The pace of closures has slowed, as the economy has stabilized and banks work their way through the bad debt accumulated in the Great Recession. By Aug. 6 last year, regulators had shuttered 109 banks.

"Large loan losses made it impossible for Bank of Whitman to continue," DFI Division of Banks Director Richard Riccobono said. "Bank management was unable to raise sufficient capital to remain viable. It hurts to lose an institution like the Bank of Whitman because they extended services to our state's smaller communities."

Columbia Banking System is the holding company for Columbia State Bank, which will reopen eight of the 20 branches of Bank of Whitman Monday. The eight branches are in Clarkston, Colfax, Othello, Pullman, Ritzville, two in Spokane, and in Walla Walla.

In May, Columbia Bank acquired the three-branch Summit Bank in Skagit County and First Heritage Bank, which operated five branches in Snohomish County. Columbia State Bank has 93 banking offices, including 68 branches in Washington state and 25 branches in Oregon. Columbia Bank does business under the Bank of Astoria name in Astoria, Warrenton, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita and Tillamook in Oregon.

As of June 30, Columbia Bank has total assets of $5.43 billion and total deposits of $3.58 billion.

While all deposits were transferred to Columbia Bank, the remaining 12 branches of the former Bank of Whitman will not reopen. State officials said customers of those branches should use the eight branches that are reopening, except customers of Pasco and Kennewick, who should use the local Columbia Bank.

All depositors of Bank of Whitman will automatically become depositors of Columbia State Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC.

Depositors of Bank of Whitman can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2011, Bank of Whitman had approximately $548.6 million in total assets and $515.7 million in total deposits.

In addition to assuming the deposits of the failed bank, Columbia State Bank agreed to purchase approximately $314.4 million of the failed bank's assets. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition.

Customers with questions should call the FDIC toll-free at 800-881-7816.

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