A new Chinese business bank has just opened its doors in Rosemead, becoming the latest in a wave of business and ethnic bank startups in L.A. County.


Pacific Alliance Bank, founded by the family of Andrew Su, a Garden Grove-based textile magnate, officially launches this week after a Dec. 27 quiet opening. The Su family, which owns about 20 percent of the bank, had raised $16.6 million in startup capital.


Bank president Rob Oehler, former president of Far East National Bank, said the bank will focus mostly on Chinese-owned businesses, making business and commercial real estate loans.


Pacific Alliance Bank will have plenty of company, as several Chinese-American banks have opened in Los Angeles in the last decade. The last bank to open was First General Bank in Rowland Heights in October 2005. Two years before that, Arcadia-based American Premier Bank launched.


The increasingly affluent Chinese-American community in the San Gabriel Valley, combined with Chinese nationals looking for places in the Southern California area to invest, has made the region a fertile ground for bank startups, said Wade Francis, an Asian bank consultant with Unicon Financial Services Inc. in Long Beach.


"There is no evidence that the local Chinese market is overbanked," said Francis, who nevertheless cautioned it will take savvy management and good execution for Pacific National Bank to succeed amidst so many competitors.


One key will be Pacific National's ability to conduct business in several Chinese dialects, not just the mainstream Mandarin. "Chinese customers will drive long distances to find a banker who will speak their dialect," Francis said.


Oehler said that effort will be helped by the bank's diverse board. "Most of the ethnic Chinese banks have a particular background: either from mainland China or Hong Kong or Taiwan. We're a Pan-Chinese organized bank, with board members from the Taiwan-Chinese community, Hong Kong-Chinese, mainland Chinese and even Vietnam-Chinese."


He added that the bank will make U.S. Small Business Administration loans. However, at least for the present it will not focus on import-export banking.

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