Bank changes hands

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The Bank of America in Socorro, along with deposit accounts and employees, becomes a Washington Federal branch by this fall.

Cathy Cooper, a spokesperson for Washington Federal, said during a telephone interview July 30 the bank signed an agreement to buy several branches of Bank of America and announced it July 18. She said the banks expect regulatory approval about 40 to 60 days from that date, and the Socorro branch of Bank of America is expected to actually change hands in early November.

“We don’t have an exact date yet, but that’s a rough estimate at this time,” Cooper said.

Cooper added Bank of America customers will receive plenty of advance notice from both Bank of America and Washington Federal, probably about a month to 10 weeks before the transition.

A news release posted July 18 on Washington Federal’s website states the company is acquiring 51 retail branches of Bank of America located in New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon and eastern Washington state. The deal represents about $1.8 billion in deposits and $11 million in loans. It is subject to regulatory approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an independent bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Eleven of the 51 branches are in New Mexico, according to a deposit acquisition summary posted on Washington Federal’s website. In addition to the branch in Socorro, Washington Federal gets Bank of America branches in Angel Fire, Chama, EspaƱola, Hobbs, Raton and Roswell, as well as two branches in Clovis and two in Silver City.

Cooper explained the transaction includes deposit accounts, such as checking, savings and CDs, but not Bank of America mortgages or credit card accounts. The deal also excludes certain large business accounts. People with deposit accounts at the Socorro branch of Bank of America, as well as businesses with small accounts, will become Washington Federal account holders once the deal is finalized.

“So we’re not just buying the property, but it’s the actual branch, including the accounts at that branch,” Cooper said. “Part of the reason is you would leave all those people without any place to walk in and do their banking on a local level.”

Cooper said no Bank of America employees will lose their jobs because of the deal.

“We are retaining all of their employees,” she said.

Cooper said in some areas, Washington Federal will have to hire some additional employees, such as for administrative support to help with the additional customers, but she didn’t know if any of the local branches would be expanded.

Cooper said the company will be looking to expand with more small business banking officers and commercial lenders, as well as to eventually do mortgage lending at its newly acquired branches.

“So over time we will be adding staff, but to start with everybody who’s at the branch now will be retained,” Cooper said, “and we look forward to have them join our team.”

Cooper noted Washington Federal already has a strong presence in New Mexico, with 19 branches here currently. The bank’s website lists branches in Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Artesia, Capitan, Farmington, Gallup, Amador, Telshor, Roswell, Ruidoso, Eubank, Osuna, Santa Fe, St. Michael’s and Rio Rancho, with multiple locations in some of the communities.

“We’re excited to be able to serve those additional communities, and we look forward to it,” Cooper said.

Several calls to a Bank of America media contact were not returned as of press time.

 

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