Umpqua buys Sterling for $2 billion

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Regional bank Umpqua Holdings Corp. said late Wednesday that it is buying Sterling Financial Corp., the lender backed by Warburg Pincus and Thomas H. Lee Partners, for approximately $2 billion.

The Portland-based bank said the merger will result in the West Coast’s largest community bank. It follows a list of expansion moves made by Umpqua during the past four years in business banking, agriculture lending and homebuilder lending.

Umpqua, which has five branches in Clark County, assumed the former Bank of Clark County’s deposits in 2009 after bank regulators shut down the Vancouver-based bank. Spokane-based Sterling, which has 11 Clark County branches, completed its acquisition of the former First Independent Bank, which had been based in Vancouver, in 2012.

“Together, Umpqua and Sterling will create something unique in the financial services industry, an organization that offers the products and expertise of a large bank but delivers them with the personal service and commitment of a community bank,” said Ray Davis Umpqua’s president and CEO in a written statement.

Umpqua also announced in June it would buy FinPac, the parent company of Financial Pacific Leasing, for $158 million from Chicago private equity firm Flexpoint Ford LLC.

The boards of directors of both Umpqua and Sterling unanimously approved the transaction, according to the bank statement. Upon completion, the combined company’s board will be made up of 13 directors, comprised of nine representatives from Umpqua and four from Sterling. Peggy Fowler will continue as board chair.

The statement said Thomas H. Lee Partners and Warburg Pincus, the two largest shareholders of Sterling, each own approximately 20 percent of its outstanding common stock. Both agreed to vote in favor of the transaction.