JASON BOOTH

Staff Reporter

After years of frenzied mergers and acquisitions, the Los Angeles banking community is now dominated by three giants Bank of America, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo.

Here is a look at the resources each bank has mustered in the local market.

Bank of America

It's now the largest financial institution in Los Angeles, with 255 full-service branches, more than 13,000 employees and $28.8 billion in deposits.

It jumped to the top in 1992 when it bought Security Pacific, and then Bank of America itself was bought out last year by Nations Bank of Charlotte, N.C. and renamed Bank of America.

Because of the geographic separation of the two chains (BofA operates in the West while Nations primarily does business on the East Coast and in the Midwest) the merger did not involve any overlap between the two companies in Los Angeles. As a result, it has not led to a significant number of local layoffs or branch closures.

The top BofA executive in Los Angeles is Liam McGee, who serves as president of Southern California banking. In fact, Chairman Hugh McColl has referred to McGee as "the CEO of Southern California."

Bank of America has a long history in Southern California. For many years Attilio Henry Giannini, brother of bank founder A.P. Giannini, was based in L.A. to cater to the needs of Hollywood. In 1997, BofA was the third-largest lender to the entertainment industry, with $1.35 billion in loans.

BofA is currently the biggest source of Small Business Administration-guaranteed loans in L.A. County. However, the resignation last year of Donald A. Mullane, Los Angeles-based executive vice president for corporate community development and chairman of Bank of America's Community Development Bank, has raised questions about how much longer the banking giant will retain that title.

Washington Mutual

The Seattle-based thrift stormed into Los Angeles in 1997 when it beat out H.F. Ahmanson in a bitter takeover battle for Chatsworth-based Great Western. WaMu must have liked what it saw in L.A. because a year later it acquired Ahmanson, the parent of Home Savings of America, making the Seattle-based savings and loan the second-largest financial institution in the county.

Having arrived so recently, WaMu remains in a consolidation phase in Los Angeles. It has established its Southern California headquarters in Chatsworth, at the old headquarters campus of Great Western, while it tries to sell the Irwindale headquarters of H.F. Ahmanson.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.

Prev