U.S. Bancorp wraps up purchase of Vail Bank

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

U.S. Bancorp, the nation’s sixth largest financial institution and Colorado’s second largest bank, has completed its $98.6 million acquisition of Vail Banks Inc.

The purchase adds 24 Colorado branch locations in 19 communities to U.S. Bancorp’s operations.

Vail Banks is the parent company of WestStar Banks, small community banks that dot the resort and bedroom communities around some of Colorado’s most popular ski and destination resorts.

U.S. Bank Vice President of Community Banking John Elmore said the deal will not only enable the financial institution to expand its Colorado footprint, but it also will allow the bank to build business relationships with the small communities where WestStar banks are located.

The additional branches also will enable U.S. Bank to serve customers who frequent Colorado’s ski resorts.

Elmore said the bank has received requests for more locations along the Interstate 70 corridor.

WestStar’s 24 locations are in Aspen, Avon, Breckenridge, Cedaredge, Delta, Denver, Dillon, Edwards, Estes Park, Frisco, Fruita, Glenwood Springs, Granby, Grand Junction, Gypsum, Montrose, Norwood, Telluride and Vail.

WestStar has assets of about $700 million, and $557 million in deposits.

Changes in store for Barclays?

Barclays, Britain’s third-largest bank, has named investment banker Marcus Agius as its new chairman.

The company has a call center in Colorado Springs.

The announcement has renewed speculation that the bank is ripe for a takeover.

Agius replaces Matthew Barrett, who plans to retire at the end of the year.

The 60-year-old Agius will leave his post as chairman of Lazard’s London investment bank for the new job.

The change at Barclays is the latest in several board departures during the past year.

Analysts are abuzz about the possibility that Bank of America could be looking at a merger deal with Barclays, because Bank of America is shopping for “transformational deal.”

Shareholders approve Wachovia merger

Wachovia Corp. shareholders have approved a merger with Golden West Financial Corp.

Wachovia, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, will pick up 285 branches in 10 states as part of the deal.

The stock-and-cash acquisition initially valued Golden West at $25.5 billion, or $81.07 per share — 15 percent above the company’s stock price on the New York Stock Exchange when the takeover was announced in May.

But investor concerns about how the deal will affect the bank’s earnings caused the proposed sale price to drop as Wachovia’s stock declined in value.

As of early this week, Wachovia shares had fallen 61 cents, or 1.1 percent to $54.65. Golden West shares had fallen 65 cents to $75.43.

IRS gives telephone tax refund details

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the standard amounts that most long-distance customers can use to determine their telephone tax refund.

The amounts, which range from $30 to $60, are intended to enable taxpayers to request the telephone tax refund without having to dig through phone bills.

In general, individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations that paid the long-distance telephone tax will get the refund on their 2006 federal income tax return.

The standard amounts are based on the total number of exemptions claimed on the 2006 federal income tax return. The standard amounts are $30 for a person filing a return with one exemption, $40 for two exemptions, $50 for three exemptions and $60 for four or more exemptions.

For example, a married couple filing a joint return with two dependent children, for a total of four exemptions, will be eligible for the maximum standard amount of $60.

To get the standard amount, eligible taxpayers need to fill out one additional line on their regular 2006 return. The IRS is creating a special short form, Form 1040EZ-T, for those who don’t need to file a regular return.

Details about requesting the telephone tax refund will be included in all 2006 tax return materials and on irs.gov.

Although businesses and nonprofits must base their telephone tax refund on the actual amount of tax paid, the IRS is looking for ways to make the refund process easier for these taxpayers. The IRS is considering an estimation method that businesses and nonprofits may use for determining the tax paid.

Comments and suggestions for simplifying the refund process for businesses and nonprofits should be e-mailed to Telephone.Tax@irs.gov. The deadline for comments is Sept. 15.

Pier 1 selling card service to Chase

Retailer Pier 1 Imports announced last week that it will sell its private-label credit card operations to J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. for about $155 million.

The deal amounts to nearly 1 million active card accounts with outstanding balances of about $140 million.

The Pier 1 Preferred Card will continue to be offered through Chase under the Pier 1 brand.

Rob Larimer covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.