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PremierWest makes progress; investors respond

Updated, 2:10 p.m. Investors responded enthusiastically today to an announcement by PremierWest Bancorp that it had raised $33.million, pushing the stock price up nearly 40 percent to 74 cents in heavy trading. Nearly 12.27 million shares exchanged hands in NASDAQ trading.

Original storyPremierWest Bancorp has raised $33.3 million in gross proceeds from the sale of 75,607,765 shares, allowing its PremierWest Bank to take steps required by regulators, it said today.

The proceeds make significant progress toward capital required by regulators, said Jim Ford, PremierWest's president and chief executive officer.

Under the terms of a consent order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities that went into effect Tuesday, PremierWest needed to increase its Tier 1 — common stock and retained earnings — capital ratio to 10 percent; reduce problem loans and other real estate holdings; reduce reliance on brokered third-party deposits; develop a plan to reduce the concentration of commercial real estate loans; and maintain an adequate allowance for loan losses.

Ford noted the company took steps to address the issues before and following the June 2009 examination.

"Despite the prolonged, unprecedented national economic environment and its particular adverse impact on the Pacific Northwest, our progress during the last 12 months has resulted in a much stronger company than we were in 2009," Ford stated in a release.

The offering was completed in two stages: First to existing shareholders, generating about $18.7 million; a second phase, completed April 2, produced an additional $14.6 million for PremierWest Bancorp.

Directors and executive officers purchased more than 21.6 percent of the shares offered.

PremierWest is one of four banks with offices in Southern Oregon under regulatory orders. The others are Home Valley Bank, based in Cave Junction, Bank of the Cascades, headquartered in Bend, and Eugene-based LibertyBank.

PremierWest said it plans to report first-quarter results in two weeks.

— Greg Stiles