TACOMA, Wash. and LAKE OSWEGO, Ore., March 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Columbia Banking System, Inc. (Nasdaq:COLB) ( "Columbia") and West Coast Bancorp (Nasdaq:WCBO) ( "West Coast") today jointly announced that both Columbia and West Coast shareholders approved the completion of their previously announced merger, under which Columbia will acquire West Coast, at their respective special meetings of shareholders held earlier today. The merger between the two companies had been earlier approved by both companies' boards of directors. More than 99% of the shares voting at West Coast's special meeting voted in favor of the merger, representing more than 84% of all outstanding West Coast shares. In addition, more than 95% of the shares voting at Columbia's special meeting voted in favor of the issuance of Columbia's common stock in connection with the merger, representing more than 82% of all outstanding Columbia shares. "We are excited that the shareholders of both companies recognized the significant value created from this combination by approving the merger between Columbia and West Coast," said Melanie Dressel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia. "We are moving forward to satisfy all necessary closing conditions and look forward to completing the transaction." Columbia and West Coast also announced today that the deadline for West Coast shareholders to elect the form of consideration that they will receive upon the closing of the merger has been set for 5:00 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time on March 24, 2013 (the "Election Deadline"). Elections can be made by mailing a completed form of election (the "Election Statement"), which was previously mailed to each West Coast shareholder, to American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, LLC Operations Center, Attn: Reorganization Department P.O. Box 2042 New York, New York 10272-2042. All inquiries with respect to the completion of the Election Statement, including requests for additional copies of the Election Statement, may be made directly to the Exchange Agent at (877) 248-6417 or (718) 921-8317. If you hold shares of West Coast stock through a broker, bank, trustee, or other nominee, you should contact your broker, bank, trustee or other nominee for instructions on how to make an election or with questions and inquiries with respect to the completion of the Election Statement. Upon completion of the merger, each share of West Coast common stock will be converted into the right to receive merger consideration consisting of shares of Columbia common stock or cash, or a unit consisting of a mix of Columbia common stock and cash, pursuant to the terms of the merger agreement. If a West Coast shareholder fails to submit an Election Statement that is received by the Exchange Agent prior to the Election Deadline, or if an Election Statement is improperly completed and/or is not signed, such shareholder may receive cash, shares of Columbia common stock or a mix of cash and shares of Columbia common stock depending on, and after giving effect to, the proration and allocation procedures set forth in the merger agreement and the number of valid cash elections and stock elections that have been made by other West Coast shareholders. The merger has received the requisite regulatory approvals required and is expected to be completed on or about April 1, 2013. About Columbia Headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, Columbia Banking System, Inc. is the holding Company of Columbia State Bank, a Washington state-chartered full-service commercial bank. For the sixth consecutive year, the bank was named in 2012 as one of Puget Sound Business Journal's "Washington's Best Workplaces."