City National Bank in Los Angeles will provide $350 million in loans to minority- and women-owned small businesses as part of a community lending initiative, it announced Monday.

The initiative is meant to help small businesses owned by women, minorities, service-disabled veterans, gays and lesbians who want to establish strong banking relationships but need help solidifying their finances.

The loans will go to qualified suppliers of Southern California Gas Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — three of California's leading energy utilities. The bank and the utility companies are expected to provide education and information on financial services and business-banking products.

The announcement follows City National's $11 billion, five-year community reinvestment commitment that was an outgrowth of its agreement in January to sell itself to Royal Bank of Canada for $5.4 billion. The M&A deal is expected to close late this year.

Over the next five years, the $32 billion-asset City National expects to put $4.2 billion into small-business loans, $4.4 billion into qualified Community Reinvestment Act community-development loans, $1.6 billion into qualified CRA investments, $700 million into minority borrowers' residential mortgage loans and $30 million into charitable contributions.

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