A pair of beleaguered publicly traded Koreatown bank stocks surged Tuesday amid reports that each is on the verge of obtaining capital infusions from investors.
Shares of Hanmi Financial Corp., the holding company for Koreatown’s largest bank, jumped 40 percent to close at $1.68 after a South Korean newspaper reported that Woori America Bank was prepared to invest $200 million into Hanmi. Separately, shares of Saehan Bancorp shot up 200 percent to close at 75 cents amid rumors that the company had secured a $40 million infusion from U.S. and Korean investors.
Hanmi, which received a pair of regulatory enforcement orders in November, has been directed by regulators to raise at least $100 million to replenish its capital reserves.
Though Woori, the U.S. subsidiary of a Korean banking giant, has been rumored for months to be interested in Hanmi, Tuesday’s article ignited a firestorm of discussion on investment-focused Internet message boards.
“It helped to create the hype in the stock today,” said Julianna Balicka, an analyst with Keefe Bruyette & Woods who follows Hanmi.
According to the report, Woori would take a 51 percent stake in Hanmi. Balicka said the deal is possible, but is likely to face considerable hurdles from regulators.
David Yang, head of investors relations for Hanmi, said, “At this point, we do not have any comment on it.” When asked if there could be an announcement soon, he said, “Possibly.”
Saehan executives, meanwhile, did not return calls requesting comment. The institution, which announced in December that it had received a consent order from regulators, has been in talks for several months with private investors.
A Korean newspaper recently reported that it had secured a $20 million infusion from U.S. investors and another $20 million from Korean sources.
Wilshire Bancorp Inc. and Nara Bancorp Inc., Koreatown’s No. 2 and No. 3 banks by assets, respectively, each have said they have looked at Hanmi and Saehan and would be interested in an acquisition if the opportunity arose.
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