May 28, 2001 11:00 pm

Twelve branches of Western Bank including the one in La Grande will become part of Klamath First Bancorp this fall.

Klamath First announced Monday an agreement to purchase 12 Western Bank branches from Washington Mutual.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of the year. The Klamath Falls-based banking company said it expects to retain all 133 people who work at the acquired branches.

In addition to the branch in La Grande, Klamath First is acquiring Western Bank branches in Astoria, Baker City, Bandon, Cave Junction, Clatskanie, Florence, North Bend and Seaside, and two in both Coos Bay and Tillamook.

These key locations strengthen our banking franchise and extend the breadth of our coverage into new regions of our state, said Kermit K. House, Klamath Firsts president and CEO. With the acquisition of these branches we welcome a quality team of relationship bankers. In addition, we will assume an attractive mix of deposits that lower our cost of funds and a commercial portfolio that enhances our overall yield of loans.