San Diego Business Journal

First Community Bancorp, the bank holding company that rolled its First National Bank subsidiary into another subsidiary bank last month, is claiming a new title: the largest San Diego-based community bank.

Pacific Western Bank is the new name for the combination of First National and Pacific Western National Bank, two subsidiaries of First Community.

First Community acquired Escondido's Community Bancorp, a deal in the works for months, and then rolled the $900 million in assets into First National Bank.

Later, First Community merged First National Bank into Los Angeles-based subsidiary Pacific Western, which was made official Oct. 26. The new bank has $5.5 billion in assets, with 65 branches in six counties.

In addition, First Community designated downtown San Diego as the headquarters for both Pacific Western and the holding company.

While the institution is now the largest community bank in the county, it remains smaller than San Diego-based California Bank & Trust, with $10.7 billion in assets.

But California Bank & Trust is a wholly owned subsidiary of Utah's Zions Bancorp.

So, CB & T; doesn't take exception to Pacific Western Bank's claim that it is the area's No. 1 homegrown bank.

"Obviously, we're owned by Zions ," said David Blackford, chief executive officer for CB & T.; "We have about $11 billion in assets, of which about 35 percent are in San Diego."

That means less than $4 billion in assets are San Diego's, but Blackford said his bank has never touted its size.

"If you really want to look at size, Wells Fargo and BofA are the largest banks in San Diego," he said.

"We emphasize customer service and customer relationships and the fact that all decisions are made locally."

The change of signage for Pacific Western Bank, and more importantly, the consolidation of the two subsidiary banks into a single platform, won't be completed until February.

In related news, First Community Bancorp reported third-quarter net income of $21.4 million, up 64.5 percent from the prior year's third quarter.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, First Community reported net income of $53.2 million, up 52 percent from the first nine months of 2005.

Those profits translated to return on average assets of 1.72 percent, compared with the 1.61 percent ROA it had for the like period of 2005.

The results included First Community's acquisitions of two Los Angeles-based banks, Foothill Independent and Cedars banks.

It also had loan growth of $108 million.

Not all the news was positive. First Community reported a $5 million rise in nonperforming loans for the third quarter to bring the total to $21 million, or 0.59 percent, of the total portfolio. The bank said the rise in nonperforming loans came from five loans.

As of Oct. 23, First Community said $3.9 million of the problem loans either paid off or became current, reducing its problem loan portfolio to $17 million.

In other news, American Banker, the industry's main trade paper, named John Eggemeyer, First Community's founder and chairman, Community Banker of the Year.

According to the newspaper, which hands out three such awards annually, "Mr. Eggemeyer is being honored for his decades of success in building community banking companies."

Eggemeyer will accept the award at a black-tie event at New York's Pierre Hotel on Nov. 30.

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1st Pacific Racks Up Higher Income: 1st Pacific Bank of California reported third-quarter net income of $873,000, up 24 percent from the like period of 2005.

For the nine months, the 6-year-old bank reported net income of $2.4 million, up 47 percent from the year before.

CEO Vince Siciliano said that while his bank's earnings are exceptional, he sees the regional economy slowing.

"This quarter's results reflect a slowdown in our economy and high level of construction loan payoffs," he said, adding that the local economy is still relatively healthy.

As of Sept. 30, 1st Pacific had $293.5 million in assets, up 15 percent from 2005. Loans grew 12 percent to $255.6 million, and deposits increased 16 percent to $245 million.

The bank's rising profit generated a return on average assets of 1.23 percent, compared with 1.18 percent for the like quarter of 2005.

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Security Reports Hefty Growth: Security Business Bank of San Diego, which opened in 2002 and now has three offices, reported net income for the third quarter of $323,000, up 4.5 percent from the like period of 2005.

For the full nine months, net income dropped to $886,000, compared with $1.7 million for the like period of last year. The bank took higher profits last year when it took a nonrecurring tax credit that wasn't available this year.

The bank said its loan portfolio grew 44 percent to $123.2 million from the prior year, while total deposits increased 23 percent to $116.7 million.

CEO Paul Rodeno said the bank's investment in technology and customized solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses is paying off.

The bank closed its Irvine wholesale lending office and relocated that operation downtown. It also has offices in Carmel Valley and Carlsbad.

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Regents' Profit Nearly Doubles: Regents Bank, open five years, reported net income for the third quarter of $829,000, up 94 percent from the year-ago period.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, net profits were $1.9 million.

Total assets at the end of the quarter were $256 million, up 26 percent from 2005. Total loans stood at $185 million, up 38 percent, and total deposits came to $234 million, up 25 percent.

CEO Dan Yates said the bank continues to grow its business through continued relationships with existing customers and their referrals.

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California Community Profits Rise: California Community Bank, based in Escondido and with two branches, reported third-quarter net income of $246,000, up 126 percent from the like period of 2005. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, the bank had net income of $568,000 compared with a net loss of $220,000 for the first nine months of 2005.

Total assets at the end of the quarter were $130 million, up 42 percent. Loans grew to $81.6 million, while deposits rose to $107.4 million. The bank plans to open its third branch in Miramar in December.

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Countrywide Bank Opening Four Offices: As the largest mortgage lender in the nation, Countrywide Financial Corp. has plenty of offices, but until this year its banking unit was absent in the county.

Last month, Countrywide Bank, with $88 billion in total assets, opened an office in Mission Valley to complement two offices in Rancho Bernardo and Carmel Valley. It plans to open a fourth office in Encinitas this year.

Countrywide's mortgage lending unit has 24 mortgage loan offices in the county.

"By adding our cost-effective financial centers' capabilities to the home loan offices, we can expand our value to consumers," said Stuart Bernstein, senior vice president.

In a related development, the lender said it would have to reduce its employee count by 2,500 in layoffs first announced in September.

Countrywide Financial, with more than $1.2 trillion in assets, has about 400 employees in San Diego County.

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BofA Recognizes Community Leaders: Bank of America announced the recipients of its third annual Neighborhood Excellence Initiative awards last month. The bank's program has resulted in total grants to local nonprofits and individuals of $1.3 million.

This year, the bank provided $200,000 each to two organizations, Casa Familiar and Senior Community Centers. The bank also provided grants of $5,000 to five local "community heroes" who gave the funds to the nonprofit of their choice, and to five high school students for their college funds.

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Small Change: UnionBanCal Corp., parent to Union Bank of California, reported nine-month net income of $527 million. Vineyard National Bancorp reported net income for nine months of $14.3 million.

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