L.A. Popular Branches Getting New Owner

Twelve Los Angeles branches of Puerto Rico’s Popular Community Bank are being purchased by an Orange County lender.

Banc of California Inc. in Irvine said Wednesday it plans to acquire 20 California branches and more than $1 billion in deposits – more than half in Los Angeles County – from Popular, based in San Juan.

As part of that deal, Banc of California also announced an investment from downtown L.A. investment manager Oaktree Capital Group. If the deal goes through, Oaktree will own just shy of 10 percent of Banc of California, implying an investment of as much as $23 million.

The Irvine bank has been expanding of late, buying local lenders Private Bank of California and Beach Business Bank last year. It also hired former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as an adviser. Steven Sugarman, Banc of California’s chief executive, said Wednesday that acquiring Popular’s Southern California business will help reach Latino customers.

“Latinos, who represent approximately 37 percent of the deposits acquired, are the most rapidly growing segment of new small business owners and entrepreneurs in California and are central to our mission of building California’s bank,” Sugarman said.

Banc of California will pay $5.4 million for $1.1 billion in deposits and $1.1 billion in performing loans. It will take over 20 Popular branches, 12 of them in Los Angeles County. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close by the end of the year.

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