Chase Bank plans to open 18 branches in Los Angeles County this year, executives said last week, generating upwards of 200 local jobs.

The bank, owned by financial conglomerate JPMorgan Chase & Co., currently has 204 branches in the county and about 5,700 local employees, said spokesman Gary Kishner.

The expansion is part of a statewide initiative to open 90 branches this year, more than half of which will be located in Southern California. The move comes on the heels of 20 branch openings in 2009.

“California is an important market for us,” Kishner said. “There’s a lot of opportunity here both for the bank to grow, and to provide products and services to our customers.”

Chase has been aggressively courting the Southern California market since buying Washington Mutual after it was closed by regulators in late 2008.

Washington Mutual had a large local footprint and was the second largest L.A. bank by deposits prior to its closure, while Chase had little presence in the market. As of June 30, though, the most recent date for which data was available, Chase had the fourth largest market share in the county.

Chase officially changed the signs and began refurbishing former Washington Mutual branches in early 2009.

Separately, Wells Fargo & Co. announced last week that it has formally converted the L.A. branches of Wachovia, a banking giant it bought in late 2008, to Wells Fargo locations.

In the process, Wells Fargo closed three of its local branches and 14 Wachovia locations, and converted 23 Wachovia branches, increasing Wells Fargo’s total county locations from 217 to 237.

Foreclosure Fees

A coalition of residents, union members and City Councilman Eric Garcetti is going on the offensive against big banks that fail to maintain foreclosed homes in Los Angeles.

Last week, the group started LAHoodwinked.com, a website allowing Angelenos to report unkempt foreclosures in their neighborhoods. The site includes interactive Google Maps features that display the locations of foreclosed homes, and give users the ability to easily report incidents of graffiti, overgrown grass and other unsightly problems.

According to the Mortgage Relief Bill, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, banks can be fined as much as $1,000 per day for failing to maintain foreclosed properties in California.

The City Council is considering a draft ordinance that would implement an enforcement program for fine collection.

Proper collection of these fines, the group said, could help offset job losses and save city programs at a time of severe budget problems.

“The city certainly doesn’t have extra funds to be maintaining bank-owned homes,” said Elizabeth Brennan, a spokeswoman for a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, which is supporting the effort.

Market Warning

While many publicly traded banks have begun filing their first quarter earnings reports, Broadway Financial Corp. still has not filed its 2009 annual report – and officials are taking notice.

Nasdaq regulators have notified the savings and loan holding company that it has fallen out of compliance with market rules. The parent of Broadway Federal Bank in Los Angeles has 60 days to regain compliance.

Chief Executive Paul Hudson said the institution has not filed its annual earnings report to the Securities and Exchange Commission because it has not yet received results of a January examination by the bank’s primary regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision.

Regulators indicated that Broadway Financial will need to increase its loss reserves, Hudson said, so executives are waiting until they know how much additional money must be allocated to reserves. Executives expect to receive final word within two weeks.

“We’re ready to file once we get the number,” said Hudson, adding that he does not believe the institution will have to raise additional capital.

C-Suite News

East West Bancorp Inc., the Pasadena parent of East West Bank, announced that Iris Chan and Paul Irving were appointed

to the boards of the bank and the holding company. … Bank of the West, a regional institution headquartered in San Francisco, appointed Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, to its board. … Private National Mortgage Acceptance Co., the Calabasas-based financial services firm started by former Countrywide executives, hired Steve Bailey as chief servicing officer. … Cathay Bank, the L.A. bank owned by Cathay General Bancorp, announced that Edward Kim was appointed executive vice president and manager of the Greater Los Angeles Commercial Banking Group.

Staff reporter Richard Clough can be reached at rclough@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 251.

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