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Bankers Target August to Open Coronado 1st Bank

After a two-decade hiatus, Tom Stickel is returning to the banking business.

As reported in the

San Diego Business Journal

on March 14, Stickel and his partner, Bruce Ives, the former chief executive officer of Cuyamaca Bank, are organizing a bank tentatively named Coronado 1st Bank. The two have already lined up their board and key staffers and are close to finishing the capital offering circular. If all goes as planned, the bank should be open by August, they say.

Stickel’s name is familiar both in local finance and in politics. He started Point Loma Savings and Loan in 1980, and when it became clear the margins weren’t sustainable, got the charter converted to a commercial bank in 1983 , the first S & L; in the nation to do so.

Right after that, Stickel sold his majority stake in the renamed Bank of Southern California to Gil Frank and launched his TCS Enterprises, a diversified financial holding company that was involved in real estate development, insurance and publishing.

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The publicly traded company received a lot of attention when one of its major shareholders, Charles Keating, was investigated and then charged with fraud and conspiracy counts while overseeing the downfall of Lincoln Savings.

Stickel said Keating owned less than 20 percent of TCS and wasn’t on the board or involved in any business deals. For proof that the government didn’t link him to Keating, federal thrift regulators appointed Stickel to oversee the wind-down of Beverly Hills Savings after the thrift failed and was seized.

He sold TCS in the early 1990s to Grupo Lomeli, a Mexican holding company.

Since then, Stickel has been involved in a number of financing ventures, including University Ventures Network, a venture capital firm that has invested in a dozen high-tech startup businesses, Stickel said.

He also made about $2 million from his 1 percent stake in a public auto finance company, Onyx Acceptance Corp., when the Foothill Ranch firm was sold to Capital One Auto Finance in January.

Stickel said he’s starting the bank because a number of people in Coronado asked him how they could launch a new community bank there, “and I knew how to do that.”

Never shy about expressing his opinion, Stickel criticized those in charge of the current financial crisis at San Diego City Hall.

“It’s a total mess,” he said. “They should have filed for bankruptcy months ago. The lack of leadership at the mayor’s office and the City Council is pathetic.”

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1st Pacific Receives Kudos:

The Findley Reports, a bank consultant based in Brea, named 1st Pacific Bank of California as the state’s best de novo bank, which it defined as a bank open for less than five years. The bank, based in University City, opened in November 2000.

In its summary on the designation, Findley wrote, “1st Pacific is one of the few entities that has been building franchise value (branches and infrastructure) at the same time as delivering financial value (acceptable return to shareholders).”

The bank reached more than $210 million in total assets at the end of 2004, including $189 million in loans, up 56 percent from 2003.

Earnings before taxes last year were $2 million, more than double the nearly $1 million achieved in 2003.

The latest award from Findley follows on the bank’s being designated as “super premier performer” for 2003 and 2004.

Findley also bestowed top bank awards to four other banks in California based on asset size: Citizens Bank, Ontario, for banks with more than $1 billion in assets; Bank of the Sierra, Porterville, $500 million to $1 billion; Stockman’s Bank, Elk Grove, $150 million to $500 million; and Metropolitan Bank, Oakland, below $150 million.

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First PacTrust Profits Rise:

First PacTrust Bancorp, the parent firm for Pacific Trust Bank in Chula Vista, reported net income of $5.1 million for 2004, up 24 percent from 2003. Total assets at the nine-office savings bank grew to $674 million, up 8 percent from the prior year-end, while loans expanded 7 percent to $628.7 million, compared with $587.2 million in the previous year. More than 80 percent of Pacific Trust’s portfolio is in apartment loans.

Pacific Trust bank put aside $238,000 in loan loss provisions during 2004, compared with $1.3 million in 2003. At the end of December 2004, the reserve balance was $4.4 million or 0.7 percent of total loans, compared with $4.2 million or 0.72 percent of total loans as of Dec. 31, 2003.

CEO Hans Ganz said the reduced loan loss provision was due to slower growth in the loan portfolio last year, and continued low levels of charge offs and nonperforming loans, but he declined to reveal exact figures. “It’s reasonable to assume there isn’t much change (in nonperforming assets). That’s why there isn’t much change in the provisions,” Ganz said.

First PacTrust, traded on Nasdaq as FPTB, saw its stock gain 22.5 percent for 2004, and has been recently trading above $27.

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Backcountry Boom:

Ramona National Bank, which opened its second office in La Mesa late last year, reported net income of $60,776 for 2004, with the biggest bang coming in the fourth quarter, when it racked up $134,950 in net income. That compared with a net loss of nearly $383,000 for 2003.

Ramona National, which opened for business in December 2001, grew total assets to $39.4 million, up from $26.1 million for the like period of 2003, a gain of 51 percent.

Loans rose to $31.5 million compared with $12.6 million at the end of 2003. Its loan loss reserve balance at year-end was $320,468 or 1.01 percent of total loans.

The bank raised $1.3 million in capital last year through a stock warrant offering.

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Seacoast Nears Break-Even:

Seacoast Commerce Bank in Chula Vista reported a net loss for 2004, its first full year, of $905,000, compared with a net loss of $777,000 for about six months in 2003.

Total assets at the one-office bank expanded to $31.9 million, up from 18.6 million in the prior year, while loans grew to $20.7 million, up from the prior year-end total of $7.6 million.

Chief Executive Officer Larry Benthien said he anticipates the bank to reach profitability this year.

The bank recently hired Kevin Ardolf as chief credit officer and executive vice president. Ardolf held the same job at Gold Country Bank in Marysville for four years.

Chief Financial Officer Toni Flannagan was also named executive vice president.

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Name Game:

Valley Independent Bank, the El Centro bank acquired by Rabobank in 2002 for $212.5 million, is finally getting around to changing its name to Rabobank. Since the Dutch bank acquired it, Valley Independent more than doubled its loans to about $1.9 billion while boosting capital to nearly $300,000. Valley Independent, now Rabobank, has 25 locations in Southern California, including branches in Julian and Tecate.

Netherlands-based Rabobank has total assets of more than $500 billion, ranking it among the top 25 banks in the world, and operations in 35 countries.

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Small Change:

U.S. Bank-San Diego added two members to its local board of directors: Marney Cox, the chief economist for the San Diego Association of Governments, and Mike Bohn, athletic director for San Diego State University. The board has 15 members. Wells Fargo Bank opened what it calls a new “multicultural” branch at Market Creek Plaza in Southeast San Diego, bringing its total in the county to 88. The multicultural designation comes from the fact that employees speak three languages (other than English), Spanish, Tagalog and Laotian. Mission Oaks National Bank in Temecula was named a super premier performing bank by Findley.


Send any news on finance or banking to Mike Allen via e-mail at mallen@sdbj.com. He can be reached at (858) 277-6359.

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