Koreatown’s BBCN Bank announced a small acquisition last week, but that could be just the first step in a significant expansion.

The lender, owned by BBCN Bancorp Inc., has agreed to acquire Pacific International Bancorp Inc., which has about $200 million in assets and four branches in the Seattle area. The all-stock deal, valued at $8.2 million, is expected to close in the first quarter.

Aaron Deer, an analyst in San Francisco with Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, said BBCN got “very attractive” pricing in part because Pacific International has had loan troubles.

BBCN, the nation’s largest Korean-American bank, has $5.3 billion in assets and 40 branches across the country. Pacific International is the largest Korean-American bank in the Pacific Northwest; the acquisition will expand BBCN’s Seattle-area branches to six.

“It’s relatively small in size, but it gives BBCN a larger footprint in the Pacific Northwest, (which) has a pretty sizeable Asian-American community,” Deer said. “And given that BBCN goes after a broader base of clientele than the Korean-Americans, the actual opportunity for them in those markets is much greater.”

He added that the bank’s financial performance and loan growth have been strong, and it recently reinstated its dividend.

Given the recent performance, he expects BBCN, which formed last year through the merger of Center Bank and Nara Bank, to consider additional acquisitions in the near future.

“I would expect that they’re going to continue to look for opportunities like this,” he said.

Suit Settlement

The former head of WesCorp, a now-defunct corporate credit union in San Dimas, has reached a settlement with regulators over claims that he contributed to the institution’s costly 2009 failure.

Robert Siravo, the former chief executive, agreed to pay $600,000 and to refrain “from becoming an employee of, holding any office in or otherwise participating in any manner in the conduct of the affairs of any federally insured credit union,” according to a release from the National Credit Union Administration. Siravo did not admit liability as a result of the settlement.

Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, known as WesCorp, was among the largest corporate credit unions in the country. But after making a series of risky investments in mortgage-backed securities, the institution lost $7 billion and was closed by regulators in early 2009.

Regulators filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against a number of former officers and directors. Many of the claims in the suit were dismissed and others were settled.

Loan Investment

Oaktree Capital Management, the downtown L.A. investing giant that specializes in distressed debt, has acquired a stake in the assets of a failed Tennessee bank.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced that Tennessee Loan Acquisition Venture LP, an L.A. company formed by Oaktree and an unnamed minority-owned business, paid $23.9 million for a 25 percent stake in a pool of distressed loans.

The pool includes 93 performing and nonperforming loans with an unpaid principal balance of $166 million. The loans were originated from Tennessee Commerce Bank, which failed in January.

Oaktree’s was the winning bid of 13 submitted to the FDIC. It was the fourth sale under the FDIC’s Small Investor Program, which gives women- and minority-owned businesses the chance to invest in failed-bank assets.

This isn’t Oaktree’s first foray into the banking world. The firm owns a stake in AmericanWest Bank, which is headquartered in Spokane, Wash.

U.S. Operations

Gottex Brokers, a Swiss financial services firm, said last week that it has opened an office in Los Angeles, its first U.S. location.

The firm’s Gottex Brokers Alternative USA Inc. subsidiary will act as an intermediary between U.S. institutional investors trading secondary interests in hedge funds and other investments, the firm said in a statement. In a nutshell, Gottex provides liquidity to investors in the secondary market.

The local office will be run by Bruno Bardavid, who was previously a broker with Mizuho International.

C-Suite News

Wedbush Securities, the broker-dealer subsidiary of downtown L.A.’s Wedbush Inc., has hired Ian Winer as director of equity trading. … CVB Financial Corp., the Ontario parent of Citizens Business Bank, announced the death of George Borba, the bank’s co-founder and chairman. The board named Vice Chairman Ronald Kruse acting chairman until a permanent replacement is appointed. … First Regional Bancorp, the bankrupt former holding company of L.A.’s First Regional Bank, which failed in 2010, announced that Richard Schreiber resigned from the board.

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

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