BancWest’s quarter
aided by acquisition

The company reports
fourth-quarter profits
jumped 55.4 percent

By Dave Segal

BancWest Corp., continuing to reap benefits from last year's acquisition of Los Angeles-based United California Bank, posted a 55.4 percent jump in fourth-quarter net income to cap off a record year in earnings.

BancWest The Honolulu-based company, which comprises First Hawaiian Bank and Bank of the West, ended the year with net income of $357.6 million, a 40.4 percent gain from $254.8 million in 2001. BancWest had net income of $98.6 million in the fourth quarter compared with $63.5 million a year earlier.

"This level of earnings is a remarkable jump from where we were not so long ago," said Walter Dods Jr., BancWest chairman and chief executive officer. "The substantial increase in our net income is a tribute both to our internal growth and our smooth acquisition of United California Bank."

BancWest, a subsidiary of French banking giant BNP Paribas SA, no longer provides earnings per share since it is no longer publicly traded. However, it provides separate earnings reports.

The acquisition of United California on March 15, 2002, substantially boosted BancWest's assets, loans and deposits. At the end of the year, BancWest had total assets of $34.7 billion, up 60.6 percent; loans and leases of $24.2 billion, up 59.2 percent; and deposits of $24.6 billion, up 60.1 percent.

"With the acquisition of United California Bank, we doubled our presence in the state and we're a visible, competitive force in the Los Angeles area," said Don McGrath, president and chief operating officer of BancWest and president and CEO of Bank of the West.

BancWest has 297 Bank of the West branches in California, Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington and Idaho with 61 First Hawaiian branches in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan.

Without integration costs associated with its United California acquisition, the purchase of New Mexico and Nevada branches in 2001, and other special items, BancWest said its fourth-quarter core earnings of $106.1 million represented a 67.2 percent jump from $63.5 million a year earlier.

For the full year, BancWest said its core earnings were $376.7 million, up 55.5 percent from $242.2 million in 2001.

BancWest also improved in its credit quality.

Nonperforming assets were 1.01 percent of loans and foreclosed properties in the fourth quarter compared with 1.12 percent at the end of the third quarter. The company also said its allowance for credit losses was 1.58 percent of total loans and leases in the final three months of 2002 compared with 1.60 percent at the end of September. The company took a $26.1 million provision for credit losses in the fourth quarter.

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