Bank of Encino is being reborn for the second time.

Twice in the last 44 years, a California bank of that name was started and then sold. Now, a group of bankers involved in one or both of those previous incarnations are forming a third Bank of Encino they hope will be just as successful.

Both of the earlier banks were sold after less than a decade in existence.

"The name is very important," said Carl O. Schatz, chairman and chief executive officer of the bank-in-organization. "Everyone in the Valley knows the Bank of Encino. We were a very well-known, popular bank."

Mr. Schatz, 77, and the bank's proposed president, Brent E. Saunders, 55, are counting on their reputations in the Encino community to draw in old customers. They are seeking to raise $7.5 million in capital and shooting for a July opening.

The hopes of Mr. Schatz and his colleagues at the proposed Bank of Encino illustrate the perceived importance of established names and the bankers who established them. Many of the most successful start-up banks in recent years have been launched by former bankers after their prior institutions were sold.

"The assumption is that people starting the new bank have an awful lot of ties to old customers and get a running start at the expense of the bank that acquired their predecessor," said Arnold Danielson, chairman of Danielson Associates Inc., a Rockville, Md.-based consulting firm.

Mr. Schatz and Mr. Saunders have been working together in the area for more than 31 years, and were colleagues at the second Bank of Encino. That bank, which Mr. Schatz founded in 1986, grew to $70 million of assets before it was sold to Los Angeles-based Western Bank in July 1995.

And the original Bank of Encino, which Mr. Schatz helped found in November 1953, was the first bank to open in the Los Angeles suburb. That bank, which Mr. Schatz said "was a winner from the moment we opened it," was sold in June 1961 to United California Bank, the predecessor to Los Angeles-based First Interstate Bancorp.

"Bank of Encino is kind of a historic thing around here," Mr. Schatz said. "It's synonymous with Encino."

Though the old name could pique the interest of former customers, the proposed bank's organizers said, it's their personal reputations that will determine its ultimate success.

"Carl's name in community banking is almost a household word," Mr. Saunders said. "I don't know that people go to a bank because of the name. They go because of the reputation of the people who work there."

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