Future of WestStar branches unknown after U.S. Bank deal
The future of Aspen’s WestStar Bank branch is in limbo after Thursday’s announcement that U.S. Bank would acquire its parent company, Vail Banks, for $98.6 million.
The Roaring Fork Valley may take the hardest hit in terms of jobs because, out of 24 WestStar Bank branches, the two that have U.S. Banks nearby are in Aspen and Glenwood Springs. In Aspen, U.S. Bank is next to WestStar Bank on Main Street between North Mill and Galena.
“Certainly they would not have two offices right next to each other,” said Kurt Adam, regional president of Community Banks of Colorado. “The same thing is going to happen in Glenwood. Quite honestly, we’re looking to see if one of the offices they release down there becomes available.”
John Elmore, the head of U.S. Bank’s community division, said that he did not expect any changes from an employee perspective, though he did say that the WestStar banks in Aspen and Glenwood Springs deserved a closer look.
“In Aspen we’re right next to each other,” Elmore said. “We’re in the process of evaluating which facility will best fit the customers’ needs in the marketplace. It doesn’t make sense to have two buildings right next to each other.”
Employees at WestStar Bank in Aspen said the acquisition came as a surprise.
Vail Banks spokeswoman Lisa M. Dillon requested that employees at the 24 branches refuse comment to the press. She did say there are no plans for layoffs.
“The indications we have this point are that all the staff we have in Aspen at this point will remain,” Dillon said. “They feel they’ll need the additional staff to handle the additional business this acquisition will bring along.”
By Tuesday, senior staff members from U.S. Bank and Vail Banks will have visited all 24 branches in part to “assure people and reassure them that, especially in the branches, we don’t expect that we’ll have any layoffs or terminations,” Dillon said.
“It wasn’t necessarily expected,” Dillon said. “This was not a long-foreseen event.”
Adam said that the change in banking in Aspen will not be hugely significant.
“WestStar was not a major player here,” commented Adam. “They were a well-managed local bank.”
Elmore, however, said the acquisition is significant for U.S. Bank. Except for the WestStar branch offices in Aspen and Glenwood, there is no overlap, so the purchase is a step into multiple markets for U.S. Bank.
“We identify markets where we think there is great opportunity,” Elmore said. “This acquisition fills in a geography where we don’t have the distribution we need. It is a significant acquisition for us and something we’re very excited about.”
Adam said he believes both Aspen and Glenwood are overbanked.
“These are very, very good markets, but when you have eight or nine banks chasing the pie it gets cut up,” he said.
“U.S. Bank is an aggressive, good bank, but I don’t look for a huge amount of change.”
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