GREAT FALLS (AP)
U. S. Bancorp, the sixth-largest U.S. bank, on Monday announced its intent to acquire United Financial Corp., the parent company of Heritage Bank of Montana. Heritage Bank has 15 locations in Montana, including three in Great Falls. As of July 30, United Financial had consolidated assets of $412 million and deposits of $314 million. U. S. Bancorp is a Minneapolisbased holding company that operates U. S. Bank. It has $217 billion in assets and operates 2,462 offices. Once approved by regulators and shareholders, the acquisition will provide U.S. Bank with a deposit base of more than $1 billion and more than 20 branch locations in Montana. “This merger combines the strength of personal relationships built by Heritage Bank and the product supply of the sixth largest financial services holding company in the United States,” said John Elmore, executive vice president of community banking at U.S. Bank. Eventually, the name Heritage Bank will be dropped, but that won’t happen until all business is converted to U.S. Bank operations sometime after the deal is final. The acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of 2007. It still needs federal regulatory approval. United Financial stockholders will receive 0.6825 shares of U.S. Bancorp stock for every share they own. Based on Friday’s stock prices, the deal is worth about $22.91 a share. United Financial stockholders will also be paid a 50-cent per share special dividend. Decisions about branch consolidations and future operations are pending, Elmore said. U.S. Bank has two branches in Great Falls. “The transaction gives U.S. Bancorp a much stronger presence throughout the state of Montana, both in cities where we don’t currently have branch locations and in cities where we’ll increase our current market presence,” Elmore said. United Financial’s shareholders have not voted on the proposal yet, but the largest shareholder has agreed to support the transaction, company officials said. In addition to the three branches in Great Falls, Heritage Bank has offices in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, Kalispell, Libby, Hamilton, Shelby, Chester, Havre, Fort Benton, Geraldine and Glendive. U. S. Bank has branches in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, Great Falls, Helena, Butte, Havre and Miles City.