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Still looking for serious buyer, BoH to close March 15

When the Bank of Hawai’i was unable to reach a “suitable agreement” with a buyer for its local operations, the financial institution then moved ahead with plans to close its two branches in American Samoa early next year, while still considering any serious offer, according to a bank official.

BoH had announced it was looking toward the end of the first quarter of 2013 to shut down local operations. Asked if the bank made any effort to sell local operations, Hobbs Lowson, Vice President and District Manager for American Samoa, said “yes”.

“...we made a serious effort from earlier this year to find a buyer and transition the operations,” Lowson told Samoa News yesterday. “Although we are not disclosing the names of the parties involved, it became apparent that a suitable agreement could not be reached.”

“That is not to say we would still not consider a serious offer, but our intention is to proceed with our plans for closure,” said Lowson, who confirmed that Mar. 15, 2013 is the official date when the Honolulu-based financial institution will fully shut down in the territory.

As to the local leases, Lowson said, the “bank has several options, including subleasing the space in the case of its Utulei Branch in the Centennial Building, or selling its building in Tafuna, which it owns. No firm decision has been made as of this date.” (The Tafuna branch is located at the ASG owned Industrial Park)

Lowson said last Friday that BoH is working with ASG officials and ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank to help ensure customers’ banking needs continue to be met.

In a statement issued late Friday afternoon, the country manager of ANZ American Samoa, Teresa Salumbides said ANZ is in discussions with BoH regarding their announcement to exit the territory, “and we hope to be able to assist their customers with their banking needs should they choose to move their banking over to us.”

BoH, the state of Hawai’i’s second largest financial institution reported last month that its net income for the third quarter of 2012 was $41.2 million, up $0.5 million compared to net income of $40.7 million in the previous quarter, and down $2.1 million from net income of $43.3 million in the same quarter last year.