First Interstate Bank to Acquire Flathead Bank

Flathead Bank locations across Montana will become branches of First Interstate Bank

By Dillon Tabish

The parent company of First Interstate Bank is acquiring Flathead Bank of Bigfork, the company announced April 6.

First Interstate BancSystem, headquartered in Billings with banks across Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, has agreed to acquire Flathead Bank for $34.2 million. The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2016, at which point the Flathead Bank locations across Montana will become branches of First Interstate Bank, which has over 80 branches in three states.

Cynthia Lyle, director of marketing with First Interstate Bank, said there have not been any decisions made about potential personnel or facility changes, “but we will be evaluating those in the coming months.”

A group of local businessmen founded Flathead Bank in 1971 to provide the residents of the east shore of Flathead Lake a hometown bank. Today the company operates seven banking offices: three in Bigfork, Kalispell and Lakeside, operating under the name Flathead Bank; three in Belgrade and Ennis, operating under the name Valley Bank; and one in Cut Bank, operating under the name Bank of Glacier County. Flathead Bank has total assets of $231.6 million, according to the company.

“Flathead Bank is very appreciative of the community support it has received over the past 45 years in Bigfork, Lakeside, Kalispell, Cut Bank, Belgrade and Ennis,” Flathead Bank Chairman Larry Jochim stated. “Now, we are looking forward to becoming part of the First Interstate family.”

First Interstate’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the acquisition. Flathead Bank of Bigfork and Flathead Holding Company of Bigfork’s Board of Directors similarly unanimously approved the acquisition.

This marks the third acquisition for First Interstate Bank in as many years. First Interstate Bank purchased Mountain West Bank for $72.8 million in fall of 2014. The Mountain West branch located in the Great Northern Town Center in Helena was consolidated into a nearby First Interstate branch. Another branch was relocated.

In 2015, First Interstate acquired Absarokee Bancorporation, Inc., the parent company of United Bank, which operated four branches in Absarokee, Columbus and Laurel. First Interstate paid $7.2 million for United Bank.

First Interstate BancSystem is a financial services holding company based in Billings with $8.7 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2015.

“Flathead Bank is a locally-owned banking organization that shares our corporate values and emphasis on community banking and community reinvestment,” stated First Interstate President and CEO Kevin Riley.  “Bringing our two companies together gives us the opportunity to expand our state-wide market in Montana and provides us with a solid presence in the Gallatin and Flathead markets. We’re confident this acquisition will create long-term value for both companies, our customers, our employees, our communities and our shareholders.”