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Washington Mutual dominates local market

Seattle-based bank is way outfront in share of local deposits

This year's Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's bank market share report is sure to warm the hearts of Washington Mutual managers and investors alike.

The financial institution, which first showed up in Southern Oregon in 1994 and aggressively gobbled up market share by acquiring Western Bank two years later, now claims nearly a quarter of all Jackson County banking deposits.

The FDIC collects deposit balances for commercial and savings banks every June 30, while the Office of Thrift Supervision surveys savings institutions. The results are posted around Thanksgiving.

For the fifth straight year, Washington Mutual topped the chart, but never before with as large a share of the pie as the 24.62 percent of the county's nearly &

36;2 billion on deposit this year. The Seattle bank with branches in 13 states had market shares of 21.50 percent and 21.34 percent in 1999 and 2000, respectively, before slipping to 18.83 percent last year.

We've had some of the largest gains I've ever seen in deposits over the last 12 months, not just in Medford but other markets around the state says Ken Leander, Washington Mutual's northwest group manager and senior vice president.

I think it's a mix of products we offer and the converted Western Bank that has seen a shift to a broader base of consumer accounts rather than just commercial accounts.

FDIC Internet charts go back to 1994, when Washington Mutual assumed control of two failed Farwest Bank offices in Medford. The first two years, Washington Mutual's market shares were 0.65 percent and 1.10 percent. But the acquisition of highly-respected Western Bank changed everything as it moved to No. 4 in the county with a 14.76 percent share in 1996. Washington Mutual climbed to No. 2 the next year at 17.84 percent and has held the top spot ever since.

Last year's growth was enormous for this area, as the Seattle bank's deposits grew &

36;160 million to &

36;473 million ' a leap of 34 percent.

The county's 12 commercial banks and thrifts pushed toward the &

36;2 billion mark in deposits, reporting &

36;1.92 billion at the end of June. That's a 13.5 percent gain over the 2001 total.

There's been some economic growth because unemployment dropped here, said John Anhorn, president and chief executive officer at Medford-based PremierWest Bank. I think part of it was that people just decided not to be in the stock market and were putting their money in a safer haven.

Although PremierWest saw deposits grow by more than &

36;10 million to &

36;197 million, its market share decreased from 11.24 percent to 10.26 percent.

We saw both ends of the spectrum, said Rich Hieb, Premier's executive vice president and chief operating officer. The investment department didn't quite hit its goal, but on the deposit side we were the recipient of a lot of money that came out of the (stock) market.

Aside from Washington Mutual, only No. 10 Evergreen Federal Savings & Loan (based in Grants Pass) and No. 12 South Valley Bank & Trust (Klamath Falls) saw market share gains. Ohio-based KeyBank was the lone institution to not only lose market share but have fewer deposits from 2001. KeyBank had a 10.92 percent market share, based on deposits of &

36;181 million last year and a 9.12 percent share with &

36;175 million in deposits in 1982.

Dottie Koehrsen, KeyBank's retail banking vice president for Southern Oregon, said the Rogue Valley has had a heavy concentration of time certificates of deposit going back to the days before KeyBank acquired Jackson County Federal in 1995.

Sometimes, the county or school districts will move money out of Key and into other investment instruments that may be with our company; it just won't be listed as a deposit. We had several of those last year, Koehrsen said. When interest rates are good, we tend to move faster.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail