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Bank of Hawaii extends American Samoa run

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) -- Bank of Hawaii has agreed to keep a branch open in American Samoa for another year while local government officials try to help set up a replacement, an aide to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said.

Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, Moliga's executive assistant, said Tuesday that one branch will now close March 15, 2014, while a second will close Friday as originally planned.

"Gov. Moliga wanted to make sure that there is a U.S. chartered bank still in the territory while seeking a U.S. replacement bank," Moliga said.

Bank of Hawaii's exit without a replacement will leave ANZ Bank, which is owned by Australia New Zealand Banking Group, as the only bank in American Samoa. ANZ is not based in the United States but is allowed to do business in the country.

Honolulu-based Bank of Hawaii originally announced plans in November to close both its branches in American Samoa. But the bank agreed last week to delay closing one and is now extending that delay.

The bank's CEO, Peter S. Ho, met privately with Moliga and Eni Faleomavaega, the territory's non-voting delegate to the U.S. House, in Honolulu on Tuesday morning.

That meeting came before a public meeting in Honolulu, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, to discuss the territory's options.

Ho expressed confidence in the transition at the public meeting.

"I am very confident that we will have a solution in place that will accommodate all parties involved," Ho said.

Separately, Zions Bank in Utah plans to take over processing of the territorial government's payroll.

Zion executives visited American Samoa last week to assess how they could help the government's banking needs.

"This option will certainly resolve a huge issue of great concern since ANZ is not able to handle the government's large payroll and other banking services," said Falema'o "Phil" M. Pili, the territorial government's treasurer.