AmericanWest Bank and PremierWest Bank today announced the execution of a definitive agreement whereby PremierWest Bank plans to merge with, and become a part of, AmericanWest Bank creating a larger combined presence in the Pacific Northwest and California. The transaction will be accomplished through a merger of PremierWest Bank’s holding company, PremierWest Bancorp (NASDAQ: PRWT), with an affiliate of AmericanWest Bank and is subject to the receipt of all necessary regulatory and shareholder approvals, as well as other customary closing conditions. “The employees at PremierWest Bank have done an outstanding job serving their customers and communities and it will be our pleasure to amplify their capabilities with our strong capital position, expanded network of branches and increased lending capabilities,” said Scott A. Kisting, Chairman and CEO, AmericanWest Bank. “This merger will bring together two like-minded community banks that complement one another in terms of geography, products, community engagement and the importance we place on outstanding customer service.” Jim Ford, President and CEO of PremierWest Bank, said, “Since early 2009, the employees of PremierWest have been working hard to resolve credit issues, organize the bank more efficiently and return the bank to profitability. While significant progress has been made, it became evident to the Board of Directors and our bank management that without a sizable infusion of additional capital, the bank would not be able to exit all problem credit relationships, satisfy our commitment to the TARP program, and adhere to recently enacted regulatory requirements. After studying many options we decided to merge with AmericanWest Bank as the best course of action for our employees, shareholders and communities.” Under the terms of the definitive agreement, PremierWest Bancorp shareholders will receive cash consideration of $1.65 per common share upon the closing of the transaction, or approximately $16.6 million in the aggregate. In addition, the United States Department of the Treasury has indicated its willingness to consent to a repayment of PremierWest Bancorp's outstanding TARP preferred securities and cancellation of the related warrant for aggregate the full principal amount of Treasury's TARP investment in PremierWest Bancorp. The parties are targeting a closing of the transaction in the first half of 2013.