BISMARCK - BlackRidgeBANK will soon become part of the Minot-based First Western Bank & Trust system, under the terms of a deal announced Thursday, July 11.

Westbrand, Inc., the holding company for First Western Bank & Trust Financial, will acquire BlackRidge Financial Inc, the holding company for BlackRidgeBANK, the firms announced.

The financial terms of the deal will not be released, First Western’s President and CEO Brenda Foster said Friday, July 12. The transaction requires regulatory approval and is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2019.

BlackRidge has offices in Fargo, West Fargo and Bismarck, and seven other offices in the Alexandria and Brainerd Lakes areas of Minnesota.


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First Western Bank & Trust has three offices in Minot, one office in Bismarck and one in the Twin Cities suburb of Eden Prairie, Minn.

None of those offices will close, Foster said. In addition, the jobs of nearly all of the employees involved will be unaffected.

However, BlackRidgeBANK's President and CEO Mark Anderson and Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Craig Weiss will not be part of the combined firm as they will be pursuing other interests, Foster said.

Foster will be president, CEO and chairwoman once the banks are combined.

She said the deal came about because combined, the banking firms have a good mesh of territories, company cultures and assets.

After the deal is approved, the operations of First Western Bank & Trust and BlackRidgeBANK will initially remain independent, but are expected to merge under the First Western Bank & Trust name in the first quarter of 2020.

"We felt that it was two great community banks. And we could bring them together, like minded and customer focused," Foster said., adding that the combination of the banks will provide customers the best commercial, business and agricultural banking, leasing, home loans, insurance and trust services "from Minot to Minneapolis."

Combined, the banks will have assets of nearly $1.7 billion, with more than 300 employees at 15 different locations in 11 communities across North Dakota and Minnesota.

“By partnering with First Western Bank & Trust, we access the strength and leverage of a larger financial institution with broad and complementary activities,” Anderson said in a news release.

First Western Bank & Trust was founded in Minot in 1964 by John H. "Jack" Hoeven, Jr., the father of U.S. Sen. John Hoeven. Sen. Hoeven is a member of First Western's board of directors.

BlackRidgeBANK was founded in 2004 when executives from BlackRidge Financial, a privately owned bank holding company, acquired banks in the Baxter, Minn., and Alexandria area, then opened new banks in the Fargo and Bismarck areas. It has assets of nearly $500 million.