- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - First Interstate BancSystem Inc. plans to close eight Mountain West Bank branches in Montana when the companies complete their merger in October, the bank announced.

First Interstate announced Wednesday it will close all three Mountain West branches in Missoula, one of two in Great Falls, along with branches in Bozeman, Whitefish and Kalispell.

The bank plans to relocate Mountain West’s main branch in Helena to its nearby retail banking center and drive-up facility and close its branch in downtown Helena.

In regulatory language, the closures of the downtown Helena branch as well as those in Great Falls, Bozeman, Kalispell and Whitefish are consolidations, which refers to the closure of an acquired bank in the same neighborhood as an existing FIB branch.

The closed Mountain West buildings eventually will be sold, First Interstate spokeswoman Cynthia Lyle told The Associated Press on Thursday.

First Interstate BancSystem announced in February its plans to acquire Mountain West Bank N.A. in a deal that would pay Mountain West shareholders about $72.89 million. The purchase is expected to close at the end of the month, followed by the branch closures by mid-October, FIB officials said.

The moves will leave Mountain West Bank branches on Helena’s east side and west side open under the First Interstate name, along with a branch at a Helena retirement community, a branch in Great Falls and a real estate loan center in Polson.

After the merger, First Interstate expects to have 79 branch locations across Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota with assets of $8.2 billion.

No estimates for job losses were immediately available, Lyle said, but those who do lose their jobs would receive separation pay and help finding other work.

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