When CIT Group Inc.’s merger with Pasadena’s OneWest Bank closed last week, it created L.A.’s largest bank, with $42.8 billion in assets – nearly one-third bigger than L.A.’s longtime leader, City National Bank.
But now that its yearlong approval process is over, it remains to be seen how much will change in the way the bank will actually interact with Angelenos. At least outwardly, the answer seems to be: not much.
As part of the deal, OneWest will become part of CIT’s banking unit, CIT Bank, and CIT Bank will relocate its headquarters to OneWest’s home in Pasadena. While the entity will be called CIT Bank, that won’t be the case for current OneWest branches.
Curt Ritter, a CIT spokesman, said branches will keep their existing signage and do business as OneWest Bank, a division of CIT. OneWest has spent a significant amount of money promoting that name – which it assumed after being formed out of the wreckage of failed IndyMac Bank and is familiar to more Angelenos than CIT.
CIT has done business in Los Angeles for years but is perhaps best known as a lender and factoring firm serving the local apparel industry.
Ritter added that customers shouldn’t expect much difference in where they find their local bank, either. He said CIT will continue to move branches within OneWest’s local footprint, but he does not expect there will be many closures.
In buying OneWest, after all, CIT was looking to take advantage of OneWest’s low-cost base of deposits – and the branches used to gather them. In fact, Ritter said CIT is actively working on ways to make the bank even easier to access for most of its customers, planning to open more full-service ATMs at local grocery chains Jons International Marketplace and Island Pacific Supermarket.
As to how the new CIT will compete with other business-focused institutions such as City National and Century City’s PacWest Bancorp, Ritter said the bank’s combination of CIT’s business-focused lending platform with OneWest’s retail footprint gives potential customers the type of multifaceted capabilities that other local banks really don’t offer.
CIT and OneWest aren’t the only institutions trying to combine a business lender and a retail bank. Last year’s acquisition of downtown L.A. lender CapitalSource by PacWest was a similar combination. But the new CIT, with a balance sheet more than twice the size of PacWest’s, will have the capability to underwrite much larger business loans.
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