A Los Angeles-based community group has dropped its objection to the proposed sale of City National Bank to Royal Bank of Canada and now says the deal should be expedited.

The National Diversity Coalition, an ad hoc group of 14 religious and community organizations, said in a four-page letter to regulators Wednesday that it was withdrawing a request for public hearings on the planned transaction.

Faith Bautista, the president and chief executive of the National Asian American Coalition, said the coalition dropped its objections after City National agreed to specifically include "faith-based groups" in its five-year, $11 billion community reinvestment plan.

The group said in the letter that David McKay, RBC's CEO, had agreed to meet informally to discuss ways to directly assist underserved communities including the promotion of homeownership, microloans, small-business lending and financial education for youths.

The $32.7 billion-asset City National said in a press release that it will consider opportunities to participate in innovative "new models" introduced by community and faith-based groups, including multibank consortia to fund grants. The Los Angeles bank also said it plans to take "affirmative steps to work with and support African-American, Latino, Asian and other minority groups."

The about-face came after the coalition had bombarded the Federal Reserve with more than 4,200 written requests for public hearings and criticized City National's reinvestment plan as weak.

"The world changes quickly and when a CEO wants to work with you, the opportunities may be better than anything put in writing," said Robert Gnaizda, a longtime bank critic who is general counsel of the National Diversity Coalition.


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