BBCN's Kang to Step Down This Month

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BBCN Bancorp (BBCN) is in the market for a new chief executive after Alvin Kang announced plans to step down at the end of the month.

Kang, 68, will relinquish his posts at president and chief executive, the $5.3 billion-asset company said in a press release Monday. BBCN said it will hire an executive search firm to find his successor.

An executive council will carry out Kang's CEO responsibilities on an interim basis. Bonita Lee, the Los Angeles company's chief operating officer, will serve as acting president and lead the council, which will also include Philip Guldeman, BBCN's chief financial officer, and Kyu Kim, the chief commercial banking officer.

Kang was largely responsible for integrating the merger of Nara Bancorp and Center Financial to create the nation's biggest Korean-American bank. BBCN also announced plans to buy a small Seattle bank late last year, and Kang recently told American Banker that he envisioned the company becoming a regional bank.

The sudden vacancy is particularly interesting given the recent announcement that rival Hanmi Financial (HAFC) is looking into selling itself. The departure is also intriguing because Jae Whan Yoo, the former president and chief executive of Center, abruptly left the company before the Nara deal closed and is now leading another rival, Wilshire Bancorp (WIBC).

Kang "has been instrumental in the transformative integration of our two organizations to become the leading Korean-American Bank in the United States and has sharpened the company's focus on achieving strong, sustained operating performance, while positioning us for endured success," Kevin Kim, BBCN's chairman, said in Monday's release.

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