California regulators have approved a request from private-equity firm Carpenter & Co. to raise capital for a new state-chartered bank.

The California Department of Business Oversight said in a press release Thursday that the Irvine, Calif., firm has been cleared to "form a corporate entity, raise capital and take other steps needed to establish a banking business."

Carpenter & Co. is affiliated with Carpenter Bank Partners, a $3.9 billion-asset company that owns Heritage Oaks Bank in Paso Robles, Pacific Mercantile Bank in Costa Mesa and Plaza Bank in Irvine.

Ed Carpenter, the firm's chairman and chief executive, did not return a call seeking comment.

The proposed bank, expected to be called Core Commercial Bank, would be the state's first new bank charter since the financial crisis. The last bank California approved was Valley Republic Bank in Bakersfield in August 2008, said Tom Dresslar, a department spokesman.

Dresslar also declined to provide other details about Carpenter's application, describing the document as confidential.

Before the bank can open, its backers must raise at least $25 million in equity capital and it must receive approval for insurance coverage from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., according to the department's release. After opening, the bank must maintain a ratio of tangible shareholder equity to total tangible assets of at least 8% for its first three years of operation.

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 Irvine office is filled with hundreds of plaques and other items commemorating the de novo banks he helped form.

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