HomeStreet's Mason: 'We're going to be active in the community'
CEO of Seattle-based financial institution promises a smooth transition after agreeing to acquire The Bank of Oswego
HomeStreet President and CEO Mark K. Mason told The Review on Wednesday that hes excited to open new retail branches in Lake Oswego, especially in light of his companys prior history in the city.
Seattle-based Homestreet Inc. announced Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire the assets of The Bank of Oswego, including deposits, loans and the financial institution's two Lake Oswego branches. The agreement is subject to approval by state and federal regulators and the bank's shareholders.
Once those hurdles are cleared, Mason said, the branches will both become part of HomeStreet Bank.
We had a branch in Lake Oswego, and it was closed during the recession to try to manage expenses, he said, adding that the closure took place before he joined HomeStreet. When I heard of that, I was really upset because I would not have made that decision. So you can imagine how happy I am today to be able to come back to Lake Oswego in an even better format.
The former branch was located on A Avenue in the downtown area until it closed in 2008. HomeStreet has also operated a mortgage lending office on Kruse Way since 2013 and provided a $23.6 million loan to Gramor Development for construction of the Kruse Village retail center.
Its not like were completely new or not doing business in Lake Oswego already, said Mason. We have been active in the market since that time; were just really excited to be there with a retail branch again.
Mason said the transition should be a smooth one for current Bank of Oswego customers and front-end employees, although he acknowledged that not everyone would be continuing with HomeStreet.
From a customer standpoint, they shouldnt notice much change because the customer-facing people are going to remain there, he said. There are some back-office personnel that will be with the company through the transition but will not be continuing with the combined group; thats one of the realities of consolidation in these type of transactions.
However, he said, customers will appreciate the additional products and options that HomeStreet will bring to the table, and that his company prides itself on being a good corporate citizen.
Were going to bring a lot more resources to the company, a much broader menu of products higher lending limits, more services and were going to be active in the community, he said. We are one of the most philanthropic companies in the State of Washington, and we expect to be active in the Lake Oswego community as well.
Mason said the legal charges against former Bank of Oswego CEO Dan Heine and former CFO Diana Yates were a factor in the negotiations for the acquisition, but didnt impact or diminish our interest in the institution. He said the two banks began discussing a possible merger years ago, before the allegations against Heine and Yates surfaced.
The Bank (of Oswego) has had a few challenges over the last several years, but weve remained very interested in the bank and its customers, and fortunately this came together, said Mason. It did delay those discussions while the institution did those things necessary to address its issues. The transaction is structured to prevent any contingencies related to those issues from impacting HomeStreet bank and the ongoing operations of Bank of Oswego, or any impact on the customers.
Mason added that the expansion in Lake Oswego fits in with HomeStreets broader plans for its future in the Portland area and throughout the state.
We have two retail branches in greater Portland, and Lake Oswego is a nice addition to that, he said. We intend to expand beyond those branches in the coming years. Portland and Oregon as a whole is a target market for us.