After rejecting several offers for San Francisco's Pacific Bank that she deemed unacceptable, the bank's controlling shareholder has decided to sell her stake separately.
Cheong Swee Kheong, a resident of Singapore who owns 36.6% of the $586 million-asset bank, called the bids made for the whole bank unacceptable because she wanted cash, not stock, in payment.
Ms. Cheong recently filed a registration statement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to sell the 1.32 million shares of Pacific stock owned by her and Indonesian investor Cahyadi Kumala Kwee.
Their stake together amounts to 44.6% of the bank's shares-the total Ms. Cheong began amassing in late 1994 and held until a sale to the Indonesian last fall. Based on Friday's midday trading price of $58.50 a share, a sale would be valued at roughly $77 million.
Bank officials said that, without Ms. Cheong's controlling interest, Pacific could be more flexible in negotiating other deals if it desires.
"This opens the door for the bank," said John Halicky, chief financial officer of Pacific. "It allows us to review additional alternatives such as acquisitions or the possibility of being acquired."
Pacific, founded in 1983, focuses on international trade finance, commercial banking, and wealth management. It has California offices in Sacramento, Burlingame, and Los Angeles and others in Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands.
The bank, which hired New York-based Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. to investigate strategic alternatives 18 months ago, has gotten offers from both in- and out-of-state suitors with $3 billion to $5 billion of assets, according to sources.
Pacific's major shareholders include George C. St. Laurent Jr., with 9.2%, and Franklin Resources Inc., a California investment advisory firm, with 7.7%. Mr. St. Laurent is former chairman of Oregon's Western Bank, which was sold to Washington Mutual Inc. of Seattle in 1995.
Pacific's executive officers and board members control 4.63% of the bank's stock.
Keefe Bruyette is handling the offering of Ms. Cheong's shares. That auction is expected to begin next week.