updated 9/9/2010 4:49:19 PM ET 2010-09-09T20:49:19

WALLA WALLA, Wash., Sept. 9, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Banner Corporation (Nasdaq:BANR), the parent company of Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, today announced that it has granted Mark J. Grescovich, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company and Banner Bank, 115,955 restricted shares of common stock of the Company. The restricted shares are scheduled to vest in one-third annual increments beginning August 22, 2011, provided that Mr. Grescovich is then employed by the Company and the Bank and subject to any additional vesting requirements necessary to comply with applicable regulatory guidance. The vesting of the restricted shares will accelerate in the event of Mr. Grescovich's death or disability while employed by the Company and the Bank or in the event of a change in control of the Company, also subject to any requirements necessary to comply with applicable regulatory guidance. The restricted shares also are subject to certain transferability restrictions.

The restricted shares were granted to Mr. Grescovich in accordance with his employment agreement, which, as an inducement material to his joining the Company and the Bank, provided for the granting of restricted shares on the six-month anniversary of the effective date of the agreement. The restricted stock grant was among the terms promised to Mr. Grescovich prior to his accepting employment with the Company and the Bank.   

The restricted shares granted to Mr. Grescovich were approved by the Compensation Committee of the Company's Board of Directors in reliance on the employment inducement exception to the NASDAQ listing rule that generally requires shareholder approval of equity-based incentive plans and awards. The NASDAQ listing rules require the public announcement of such employment inducement awards.

About the Company

Banner Corporation is a $4.7 billion bank holding company operating two commercial banks in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Banner serves the Pacific Northwest region with a full range of deposit services and business, commercial real estate, construction, residential, agricultural and consumer loans. Visit Banner Bank on the Web at www.bannerbank.com.

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