CEO: Merger will Boost First Interstate Bank’s Small-Business Lending

Jan 30, 2017|Blog

After First Interstate Bank completes its acquisition of Cascade Bank, small businesses will have better access to government-backed loans, CEO Kevin Riley said Friday.

In an earnings call with analysts, Riley said that Bend, Ore.-based Cascade has a strong Small Business Administration lending program that will fold into Billings-based First Interstate’s operations.

These include loans for veterans, micro-lending and other loans designed for small business, he said.

“We’re not as strong as they are, so that platform will probably be something we adopt,” Riley said in response to an analyst question.

He later added, “Together, we’re stronger than we are apart.”

Friday marked First Interstate’s first earnings report since the bank’s Nov. 17 announcement of its $589 million purchase of Cascade, its largest ever acquisition.

Publicly traded First Interstate reported a $24.8 million profit, or 56 cents per share, for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31.

The report does not include the Cascade purchase, which is expected to be completed this summer. First Interstate is also paying a dividend of 24 cents per share for stock holders.

For the first time, the earnings report included gains from First Interstate’s $34 million acquisition of Flathead Bank of Bigfork, which closed last August.

In the fourth quarter, First Intestate reported 2.8 percent organic loan growth and 4.4 percent total loan growth. Deposits grew 1.1 percent over the year organically, and 4.1 percent total.

The purchase of Cascade Bank would expand First Interstate’s reach to the Pacific coast and push the bank’s assets to above $12 billion.
That threshold would trigger new federal Dodd-Frank regulations, which include additional stress testing and added oversight from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

Riley said the bank has been preparing for the additional regulations for months, and regulators have so far been pleased with the actions.

First Interstate is Montana’s largest native bank and also operates branches in Wyoming and South Dakota. The bank has about 1,400 employees.

Shares of First Interstate closed at $42.10 Friday, up about 1 percent over the day.

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