Cathay General Bancorp (CATY) has agreed to acquire about $40 million of deposits and a Las Vegas branch from SWNB Bancorp, marking Cathay's entrance in the Vegas market.

SWNB Bancorp is selling its sole office of the $44 million-asset Nevada National Bank. Terms weren't disclosed. Nevada National previously operated two branches in Las Vegas but recently closed one.

Cathay, which will not acquire loans from SWNB, expects final regulatory approval for the deal "in a matter of weeks," said Heng Chen, Cathay's chief financial officer. The California Department of Financial Institutions approved it April 22, but other regulators have to OK the deal, too.

SWNB will continue to operate the $340 million-asset Southwestern National Bank in Houston.

The $10.5 billion-asset Cathay, based in Los Angeles, had not considered entering Las Vegas, either through an acquisition or building a branch, Chen said. But when SWNB executives made it known they were selling Nevada National, Cathay expressed an interest, he said.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in April terminated Cathay's memorandum of understanding, which had prohibited the company from making capital distributions. Cathay in March repaid half the money it received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, about $129 million.

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