City National (CYN) in Los Angeles is eyeing acquisitions of both banks and asset management firms and its chief executive has no preference for one over the other.

Asked in a conference call with analysts Thursday if City National would, "in a perfect world," rather buy a bank or an asset firm, CEO Russell Goldsmith quipped, "That's kind of like asking me which one of my children do I like best. We love both businesses and I think we've demonstrated...that we can buy businesses in either space."

Goldsmith said that the $24 billion-asset City National is primarily interested in deals within its footprint and not necessarily those that would take it into new markets.

The bank operates primarily in California, but it also has a growing presence in the Las Vegas area and in the last year it has opened offices in New York, Nashville and Atlanta that cater largely to individuals and businesses in the entertainment industry.

City National is also not looking at blockbuster acquisitions. The ideal bank target, Goldsmith said, would have $500 million and $3 billion of assets. Still, asset firms might look more attractive to Goldsmith these days because he believes banks' asking prices are too high.

"There is still a mismatch out there for a lot of ...potential banks sellers as to what the realities are of valuations for banks today versus what they were in 2007," Goldsmith said on the call.

City National reported earnings late Thursday of $46.3 million in the first quarter, up 17% over the prior year, as a result of double-digit loan and deposit growth. Its earnings per share of 86 cents beat consensus estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters by four cents.

City National's shares were trading at $51.90 early Friday, up 0.5% from Thursday's close.

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