Associated Bank says it will close 21 branches in its primary three-state area of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois in early 2012, including 16 in Wisconsin.

Two Associated Bank branches in Madison are among those slated to end operations, one on the East Side and one on the West Side, an employee of the Green Bay-based bank confirmed Saturday.

The branch at 3394 E. Washington Ave. is scheduled to close March 15 and its accounts will move to the 4402 East Towne Blvd. location, while the Hilldale branch, 617 N. Segoe Road, is expected to close in early April, with its accounts moving to the branch at 2420 Allen Blvd., Middleton, according to an Associated Bank customer service representative.

Public relations spokeswomen for the bank could not be reached on Friday. Contacted on Saturday, a spokeswoman said she could not provide the list of targeted branches until the middle of next week. The bank did release this written statement:

"Associated Bank has one of the largest retail networks throughout the upper Midwest, an exceptionally stable capital base, and a sophisticated array of commercial, investment, mortgage and specialized financial services offerings. During the past two years we have executed upon a deliberate, disciplined strategy in which we successfully stabilized our portfolio, engineered five straight quarters of profitability, and positioned the bank for continued future growth."

The bank's news release said the 21 closings will take place during the first quarter and early in the second quarter of 2012. Most of the branches affected are within about two miles of another Associated location.

In addition to the two Madison offices planned for closing, a customer service representative said the others in Wisconsin are in La Crosse, Eau Claire, Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau, Sturgeon Bay, Appleton, Kimberly, DePere, Neenah, Brookfield, Greendale, Waukesha and Manitowoc.

No information is being disclosed at this time about how many employees may be affected or what may happen to their jobs. The bank said, in its news release, it will help workers at the branches involved transfer to other locations, if positions are available.

Associated, the largest bank with headquarters in Wisconsin, has $21.6 billion in assets and more than 4,500 full-time-equivalent employees , according to information reported to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as of Sept. 30, 2011. It has 282 locations, with 206 in Wisconsin; 51 in Illinois; 24 in Minnesota; and one in Virginia, the FDIC report shows.

The bank had net income for the first nine months of $120.8 million, up from $2.5 million at the same time last year.

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