L.A.'s deep connections to the Asian world are abundantly apparent in two industries: international trade and, increasingly, banking.
On this year's List, five of the top 10 banks in L.A. County including No. 1 on the List, Sanwa Bank of California are either subsidiaries of large Asian concerns or entrepreneurial ventures formed by Asian Americans and targeting L.A.'s Asian community as customers.
This is a reflection both of consolidation in the industry, which resulted in the acquisition last year of L.A.'s biggest bank (First Interstate Bancorp), and of the economic strength of the Asian community here.
Another notable fact: every one of the top 10 banks on the List reported gains in assets over last year, and some increases were truly dramatic: Imperial Bancorp grew from $3.1 billion in assets last year to $4.1 billion in 1997, a 34 percent gain.
Sanwa Bank California
CEO: Tamio Takakura
Sanwa Bank California joined six other California banks in expressing concerns earlier this year about fee practices of larger banks like Bank of America, which recently began charging extra fees to customers who use ATMs not owned by BofA placing smaller banks at a competitive disadvantage. The seven smaller banks pledged to hold the line on extra fees charged to non-customers.
Head of Sanwa Bank California since January 1996, Takakura is also a director of parent company Sanwa Bank Ltd., which has worldwide assets exceeding $606 billion.
City National Bank
CEO: Russell Goldsmith
Earlier this year, City National Bank completed its acquisition of Ventura County National Bank, adding nearly $300 million in assets to City National's more than $4 billion in pre-existing assets.
With the acquisition, City National bought Ventura County's last locally headquartered bank for about $47 million or $5 a share around twice Ventura County National's book value at the time of the acquisition.
Russell Goldsmith is a former Hollywood executive who made the jump to banking three years ago. He also happens to be the son of longtime City National chairman/CEO Bram Goldsmith.
CEO: George L. Graziadio
In February, Imperial Bancorp announced plans to spin off its entertainment lending branch and other specialty finance businesses late in the year or early in 1998. Chief Financial Officer Robert Franko said the spin-off would comprise less than 10 percent of Imperial's assets and more than 10 percent of its projected annual income.
It will allow Imperial to focus on middle-market loans of $1 million to $15 million.
George Graziadio co-founded and opened the first Imperial Bank branch in 1963 in Los Angeles. Since then, it has grown into an institution with $4 billion in assets.
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