Yellowstone Bank expands into Bakken

2014-04-25T20:30:00Z 2014-04-25T20:58:04Z Yellowstone Bank expands into BakkenBy ERIK OLSON eolson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Billings-based Yellowstone Bank officials said Friday they will make their first big move into the Bakken region, acquiring the Sidney branch of 1st Bank.

Officials at the two banks jointly announced they have signed a purchase agreement for the bank at 120 Second St. N.W., in Sidney. 1st Bank will transfer its headquarters to its Broadus branch.

Officials expect to close the sale in the third week of September. Yellowstone will acquire about $110 million in deposits and $40 million in loans. The two sides declined to announce a sale price.

Jay Harris, Yellowstone Bank president, said he expects a “seamless transition” for depositors in Sidney. They will also have access to more services at Yellowstone, such as electronic statements and mobile banking, he said.

Yellowstone Bank has seven branches, mostly in the Billings area and down the valley toward the Beartooths. The bank last expanded when it opened a Bozeman branch in 2007. It has about $500 million in total assets.

Harris added that he’s excited to expand into the booming Bakken region, and he expects Yellowstone will continue to focus on small-business lending.

“The more we can know about (the Bakken) as an institution, the more we can help our customers, and that’s a good thing,” Harris said.

Yellowstone will keep 1st Bank’s 13 employees in Sidney, Harris said. Brad Franklin will be president of the Sidney branch.

In a written statement, 1st Bank President John Franklin, Brad Franklin’s father, said major stockholders and directors are past retirement age and were looking to sell.

Larger banks were also interested, but Yellowstone was considered the “best fit” because of its focus on agriculture and small business lending, Franklin said.

“We just felt like they, being a small bank, would relate to our customers,” Franklin said.

1st Bank was founded in 1975 as 1st United Bank of Sidney.

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