Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2014

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Loan business booming for Nevada State Bank

Zions Bancorporation, parent company of Nevada State Bank, on Thursday announced third-quarter net income of $62.1 million, or 68 cents per share. Officials reported strong loan growth in Nevada as the bank capitalizes on the state's growing economy.

The results represent a 57 percent increase over the $39.4 million, or 43 cents a share, reported for the same 2002 quarter.

The Salt Lake City-based company reported loans and other assets as of Sept. 30 of $27.6 billion, up from $26.3 billion reported for the same time in 2002. Loans grew from $18.3 billion to $19.4 billion.

"It's a good year," said Bill Martin, president of Nevada State Bank.

He said cost-containment is a key contributor to the bank's profit growth as Zions and other banks deal with squeezed profit margins as a result of low interest rates.

"We're doing it mostly through expense control because our margins are so shrunk," Martin said. "Our expenses (in Nevada) are up only 3 percent from last year. That's tough to do, and we have opened three branches."

He added that Nevada State Bank, which has 837 statewide employees, has only seven more employees than it did a year ago.

In the Las Vegas area, Nevada State has 45 branches and 635 employees.

Harris Simmons, chairman and chief executive of Zions, said that the bank's growth has mirrored national economic conditions.

"We are very pleased with the continued solid performance of the company during the quarter," he said in a statement. "Credit quality continues to remain satisfactory and is slowly improving. Asset growth, although modest, continues to improve slowly along with the economy."

In Nevada, Martin said loan activity was strong, up 13 percent over the same time a year ago. That activity seems to put to rest the concerns of many bankers early in the year that a weak economy and unrest overseas would stifle the commercial lending market.

"That's a lot of loan growth," he said. "If there were people on the sidelines, they are back now."

Additionally, Martin said the recent move by the state Legislature to increase taxes and fees paid by banks should not stop any expansion plans.

"I don't think anybody is going to let that stand in the way of doing what it takes to be competitive," he said. "They may not like it, but I don't think it's going to stop anybody.'

Martin also said that, amid such market competition, there will be little opportunity for banks to pass on those new expenses to customers.

"In a competitive environment, that's tough to do," he said.

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