Two bank holding companies announced they are merging, according to a prepared statement.

The boards of directors announced their unanimous approval of the definitive merger agreement of their First Wyoming Bancorporation, the holding company for Wyoming State Bank, and First Express of Nebraska, Inc., the holding company for Valley Bank and Trust Co. and Western States Bank.

The combined Valley Bank and Trust Co., Western States Bank, and Wyoming State Bank will total $57 million in equity and have $525 million in assets.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the first half of 2016. The banks will operate under the name Western States Bank. The First Wyoming Bancorporation charter will remain in Laramie.

“This merger represents a tremendous opportunity for our customers and the communities we serve,” Wyoming State Bank President and CEO Gary Crum said.

“We’re creating a stronger bank that’s committed to delivering the highest level of service, cutting-edge technologies, and the hometown bank values and benefits our customers count on," Crum said.

The Scottsbluff, Neb.-based Valley Bank and Trust Co. began 1988, and currently operates 11 branches in Western Nebraska and Colorado.

The Colorado locations operate under the Western States Bank brand name.

Wyoming State Bank has been in business since 2006, and has three locations in Laramie and Cheyenne.

Craig Ockers, President and CEO of Valley Bank and Trust Co., said, “This partnership will allow us to provide more convenient, enhanced products and services to all of our customers in Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. First Wyoming Bancorporation shares our core values and a similar culture, and together, we will continue our strong traditions of community banking, outstanding customer service, and community involvement.”

The merger will enable Western States Bank to deliver personalized, hometown service with a broader range of services for customers, Ockers said.

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