After half a decade and nearly $75 million in losses, the Bank of San Francisco is finally making money.
Its parent, San Francisco Co., reported net earnings of $336,000 for 1995, the first time since 1990 it has posted an annual profit. Just a year earlier, the company reported a loss of $33 million, a hefty $10.73 per share, and from the beginning of 1991 through yearend 1994 the company lost $74.6 million.
"We've had the good fortune to have a major shareholder who believes in us and we've had the good fortune of the California economy improving over the past 18 months," said James Gilleran, chairman and chief executive of the bank and the holding company. "We've also been able to sell off some of our problem assets for a profit."
The bank's loan-loss provisions fell substantially during the past year, but the biggest boost has come from Putra Masagung, an Indonesian businessman who has said he would invest $4.5 million in the company by the end of this year.
The contribution would bring Mr. Masagung's total investment in four years to more than $44 million.
"Clearly, the only way they have survived is on the willingness of their major shareholder to continue to invest capital in the bank," said Philip Hage, an analyst with Van Kasper & Co., San Francisco. "Without him, they wouldn't have made it."
The bank has made considerable strides since Mr. Gilleran, the former California superintendent of banks, came aboard in October 1994. It has distanced itself from speculative real estate loans that proved to be its scourge earlier in the decade and is now concentrating on its niche markets.
"We really are back to basics," said John F. McGrath, the former president of Sacramento First National Bank, hired last December to be president, chief operating officer, and chief credit officer of the Bank of San Francisco. "We've been able to maintain a loyal group of San Francisco investors and we have a good core to build upon."
Concentrating on its private banking, escrow, and discount brokerage services and serving condominium associations, the bank is now ready to expand, said Mr. Gilleran.
"We're down to the size we need to be, and from now on there will be a lot of good solid growth," he said. "Our goal is to grow the bank to around $200 million by the end of 1997."
The bank currently has $115 million in assets, down more than 70% from the early 1990s. But the number of problem loans has also fallen substantially.