Continuing a wave of consolidation among California community banks, AltaPacific Bancorp in Santa Rosa said late Wednesday that it is buying Stellar Business Bank in Covina for $17.4 million in stock.

The deal would be at least the 15th announced in California this year, by far the most in any state. In a news release, AltaPacific President and Chief Executive Officer Charles O. Hall hinted that his company, still flush with capital from when it was organized in 2006, is on the lookout for more acquisitions.

"We believe that this merger will be the first of many in the growth and development of AltaPacific Bancorp," Hall said.

Like AltaPacific, the $85 million-asset Stellar Business Bank is a startup (it was founded in 2007) that caters to small-business customers. Under terms of the deal, Stellar would be merged into AltaPacific, creating a $190 million-asset bank with branches in Santa Rosa, Rancho Cucamonga and Covina.

AltaPacific said that Stellar's President and CEO Timothy Walbridge and Chairman Rich Jett would join the boards of the company and its subsidiary bank and that Walbridge would join the company's management team. 

The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

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