BBCN Bancorp (BBCN) in Los Angeles has agreed to buy Foster Bankshares in Chicago.

BBCN said in a press release Tuesday that the acquisition would position the $5.6 billion-asset company as "the leading Korean-American bank in Chicago" while providing it with entry into the Washington, D.C., market. Foster Bankshares has $413 million in assets, eight branches around Chicago and one in Annandale, Va.

BBCN will pay about $4.6 million for Foster, or roughly $34.67 a share. Foster's shareholders can choose cash or stock. The companies expect to complete the transaction during the second half of this year.

"This partnership underscores BBCN's strategic objective to be the dominant Korean-American bank in the markets in which we operate," Kevin Kim, the company's chairman and chief executive, said in the release. "We are excited to be expanding our banking footprint into the D.C. metropolitan area, a region that represents one of the fastest growing populations of Korean-Americans in the country."

The transaction also indicates that BBCN aims to be a consolidator rather than a seller. Foster Bankshares is the first acquisition since BBCN named Kim its CEO; he succeeded Alvin Kang, who abruptly resigned earlier this year. It is also another sign that Asian-American banks are looking at a broad range of markets to target their a potential client base.

BBCN, which has two branches in Chicago, was advised by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Arnold & Porter. Foster Bankshares was advised by FIG Partners and Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg.

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