"Language was not part of the equation with Nara and Center because both were fairly well bilingual. Hanmi is not," Balicka says. "The biggest detriment was that Al didn't speak Korean."
BBCN said it would engage an executive recruiter to help it identify candidates. In the meantime, the board established an executive council headed by Bonita I. Lee, its chief operating officer. Lee was also named acting president.
The pool of possible candidates is small, Balicka says. She sees Lee, who has been with BBCN and Nara for two decades, as a potential candidate for the job. Others say Chairman Kevin Kim might have aspirations of becoming more involved in day-to-day management.
While Hanmi's Yoo, who is in his mid-60s, is an unlikely long-term candidate, he could be engaged to oversee the company if BBCN agrees to buy it.
"The board likely already has an idea of who they want to hire," Coffey says. "I think something will happen within 90 days."