Umpqua-Sterling merger nears completion

Deal expected to be official by April 18

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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A merger between Portland-based Umpqua Bank and Spokane-based Sterling Bank is set for completion by April 18, the corporate parents of the two banks said in a statement released Tuesday.

Umpqua Holdings Corp. and Sterling Financial Corp. said they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals for the proposed merger that was announced on Sept. 11, 2013. In addition, shareholders of the two financial institutions have approved the merger through Umpqua’s acquisition of Sterling with the payment of almost $2 billion in stock.

After the April 18 completion of the merger, the combined company will operate as Umpqua Holdings Corp., with banking operations using the Umpqua Bank name.

The merged assets will leave Umpqua with about $22 billion in assets and 394 branches in five states, the banks said when the merger was announced last fall.

In Clark County, Sterling currently has 11 branches and Umpqua has five. Three of those branches are in downtown Vancouver.

Cara Coon, Sterling’s communications and public affairs director, said no decisions have been made about closing branches, which the bank calls stores. “We do know that there are likely to be stores that we need to combine,” she said.

Some Sterling employees will be losing jobs because of the merger, Coon said. The banks have established a “career center” to assist employees in finding work within the bank or outside the bank, she said. The two banks have about 100 job vacancies. Sterling has some 2,600 employees across its service area.

Sterling’s era as one of Clark County’s top banks was short-lived. It had a small presence in the county until it completed its acquisition of First Independent Bank, based in Vancouver, in 2012. By mid-2013, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. completed its most recent Summary of Deposits report, it was Clark County’s fourth-largest bank, as measured by deposits, with a 13.1 percent market share. It ranked behind three national banks —Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. In the same report, Umpqua was the seventh-largest bank in Clark County, with 6.7 percent market share.

As part of the bank merger, Umpqua and Sterling said last fall that they will establish and fund a $10 million community foundation to help support community-based programs.