Banc of California (BANC) in Irvine is getting $20 million from a private-equity investor.

Patriot Financial Partners, a Philadelphia PE firm that specializes in community banks, has agreed to buy more than 1.5 million shares of Banc of California for $13.25 each, a price 6% higher than the company's Tuesday closing price of $12.46 a share.

The sale would give Patriot an ownership stake of approximately 8%, based on the number of outstanding shares of Banc of California common stock as of Sept. 30. The deal is expected to close on Dec. 10.

"Patriot has an exceptional track record in investing in strong and growing banks, and we're happy to count ourselves among this group," Banc of California Chief Executive Steven Sugarman said in the news release. "The additional capital will help drive our focus on serving small to midsize businesses, high net worth families and homeowners throughout California."

Patriot has also invested in Heritage Oaks Bancorp (HEOP) in Paso Robles, Calif., Porter Bancorp (PBIB) in Louisville, Ky., and Guaranty Bancorp (GBNK) in Denver.

The $3.7 billion-asset Banc of California has grown quickly through acquisitions and has said it intends to reach $5 billion in assets. But it has been hurt by costs tied to its recent acquisitions of Private Bank of California, the investment firm Palisades Group and the mortgage company CS Financial. The company's president resigned after it announced a $9.5 million third-quarter loss.

In November, Banc of California filed a $1 billion shelf registration, and increased the number of shares of common stock it could issue to 450 million from 200 million.

Its shares were trading at $12.65, up 1.5%, at midday Wednesday.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz advised Banc of California on the Patriot agreement, and Elias, Matz, Tiernan & Herrick advised Patriot.

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