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Hanmi wants to make sure that, when the dust settles, it is part of the nation's biggest Korean-American bank. The move also shows how difficult it will be for ethnic banks to gain meaningful scale while sticking to their niche groups.

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Auto-loan, commercial-mortgage-backed and other securitizations use what is known as the swaps curve to price floating-rate deals. But pricing volatility is causing some to ask whether the market should go back to Treasuries after a 15-year hiatus.

Mark Simmons, a seasoned commercial lender, is planning to open a bank in California’s Orange County that is dedicated to making loans to businesses. Core Commercial Bank, expected to be the state’s first de novo since 2008, would jump into a market where commercial lenders are plentiful – and aggressive.

American Chartered was also the top M&A priority for MB Financial, which was willing to pay a healthy premium to get a deal done. MB Financial, which prefers big acquisitions, will be challenged to find other opportunities in the Windy City.

On the sidelines for three years, the once-aggressive acquirer jumps back in the game with a deal for CommunityOne Bancorp in Charlotte. It's also looking to bulk up in Tennessee and Florida, though any opportunity would bring tough decisions on whether to cross the $10 billion-asset mark.

The agency's board, however, delayed action on a contentious proposal to increase a key population threshold for determining fields of membership in metropolitan markets. Bankers remain on alert, however, because the agency has indicated an interest in revisiting the issue.

More banks are looking to buy commercial loans for reasons ranging from a dearth of organic opportunities to a need to diversify their asset mix. That surge in demand is creating an imbalance that benefits banks that have been able to make more loans.

KeyCorp and New York Community Bancorp are among a number of buyers pledging to aggressively cut costs at acquired banks. There are plenty of ways to go about it, but acquirers risk cutting too deeply in the effort to appease wary investors.

The Illinois company has lined up two small acquisitions near Chicago to surpass $10 billion in assets, a mark that brings added regulatory oversight. As a result, analysts expect First Midwest to string together more deals in 2016 to increase revenue and improve efficiency.

Bank Leumi's conservatism helped it stay profitable during the financial crisis. The bank, a unit of Leumi Group in Israel, is ready to get more aggressive in areas such as technology lending.

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