A group affiliated with the private-equity firm Carpenter & Co. in Irvine, Calif., is seeking approval for a new bank charter in Southern California.
The organizers have asked state and federal regulators to approve Core Commercial Bank in Newport Beach, Calif. A spokesman for the California Department of Business Oversight said that the organizers are affiliated with Carpenter Bank Partners, a $5.8 billion-asset multibank holding company in Irvine.
Edward Carpenter, chairman and chief executive at Carpenter & Co., did not return calls seeking comment.
If approved, the institution would be the third de novo bank formed in the U.S. since the financial crisis. A group that included Amish businessmen formed Bank of Bird-in-Hand in Pennsylvania in 2013. New Hampshire regulators earlier this year approved the formation of Primary Bank in Bedford and its first branch opened this spring.
The California Department of Business Oversight declined to provide documents related to the organizers' application for a state bank charter. Jan Lynn Owen, the state banking commissioner, declined to comment on the application.
The department's goal is to make a decision on the application within 90 days of its filing this month, Owen said. California has received several serious inquires in recent weeks from groups that are considering filing applications for de novo state bank charters, she said.
The organizers of these potential de novo banks are proposing "business models that are focused on small business and they're community driven," Owen said in an interview. "I understand that's contrary to what you hear across the country, where they are saying you have to be at least $500 million in assets after Dodd-Frank to be successful. But we are getting these inquiries, and these banks won't be coming immediately out of the gates with $500 million of assets."
Carpenter Bank Partners is the holding company for five banks in California: Bridge Bank in San Jose, Heritage Oaks Bank in Paso Robles, Pacific Mercantile Bank in Costa Mesa, Plaza Bank in Irvine and Bank of Manhattan in El Segundo. Plaza Bank and Bank of Manhattan have agreed to merge; the deal is expected to close in the first half of this year.
Edward Carpenter, an investment banker and longtime bank consultant, has long specialized in de novo banks, advising more than 1,200 since founding his eponymous consulting firm in 1974. Carpenter's office in Irvine is filled with hundreds of plaques and other items commemorating the de novo banks he helped form.
Carpenter started his career at Security Pacific National Bank in Los Angeles and has served on the boards of numerous banks over the years.
Business boomed for de novo bank charters in California for many years, driven by the once-hot real estate market and ever-higher premiums paid by buyers to merge with upstart banks. But the de novo business suffered during the financial downturn and during a wave of bank failures from 2009 to 2011. Many startup banks got overextended on construction and commercial real estate loans.
Kate Berry contributed to the story.