and his recent appointment as chairman and chief executive of Beverly Hills' City National Bank. Mr. Goldsmith's career includes work at two entertainment companies - Republic Pictures Corp., which he headed, and Lorimar Inc., where he was chief operating officer. The 45-year-old Mr. Goldsmith led Republic for almost 10 years, until its merger with Spellman Entertainment Group in 1994. His experience in banking had been limited to committee memberships and a place on the City National board. His father, Bram Goldsmith, spent the past 20 years as City National's chairman and chief executive. Nevertheless, "I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from customers," the new chief executive said. "The people I've talked to look at the family connection to the bank, my 17 years as a director, the fact I'm a Harvard Law School graduate, and that I ran a public company, and they see a level of experience that goes beyond being an entertainment industry executive." But banking analysts say his entertainment background will be significant. "One of the primary jobs of the CEO is to go out and generate business for the bank," said Campbell Chaney of Rodman & Renshaw in San Francisco. "A lot of their customers are in the entertainment industry, so who better to go out and try and generate business than someone who was in the industry?" "Actually, I expect that their focus as the bank to the stars will be enhanced," said Charlotte Chamberlain, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles. "For every high-profile customer they have, there's another 15 hangers-on who work for that high-profile customer and run their money through the bank. Plus, you have the fact that City National underwrites movies, and that's a pretty specialized field." City National officials prefer to stress a down-to-earth approach to customers and the bank's place in the community. "We're a relationship-oriented bank," said Jim Dunnigan, City National's director of advertising and public relations. "We seek to establish and maintain long-term relationships with our customers." "People like a bank that's big enough for them and is able to give them what they need in the ever-changing business environment," said Mr. Goldsmith. "But they also like being able to come into Beverly Hills and talk with the front office of the bank. The level of rapport between the front-office executives and the customers would be hard to match anywhere." The family connection to City National goes back nearly four decades. One of Mr. Goldsmith's grandfathers was a co-founder, back in 1954. His father, who will continue as chairman of City National Corp. and will remain active in management, has been a director since 1964. The Goldsmith family owns about 15% of City National. Mr. Goldsmith practiced law for seven years and founded his own firm, Sanders, Barnett & Goldsmith, where he specialized in entertainment law. He then worked for two years at Lorimar before moving on to the top job at Republic Pictures, best known for producing a pair of 1991 television mini-series, "One Against the Wind" and "Separate But Equal." The first won two Golden Globe awards, the second an Emmy. The studio also produced the television series "Beauty and the Beast" during Mr. Goldsmith's tenure. Meanwhile, City National Corp. is riding high. Third-quarter profits were up 28% from the year-earlier level, and the company is acquiring First Los Angeles Bank, in a deal that would boost total assets to $3.3 billion. Should Wells Fargo & Co. succeed in its hostile buyout of First Interstate Bancorp, City National would be the largest bank based in Los Angeles County. "It's a very exciting time for the bank," Mr. Goldsmith said. "A move like this makes us a more compelling company. We're in a very good position, and a lot of good things are happening." Mr. Goldsmith wouldn't comment on further acquisitions or other moves by City National. But Wedbush Morgan's Ms. Chamberlain said there could be some other interesting opportunities in the bank's future. In particular, she said, Los Angeles' Imperial Bank would be a solid candidate for a merger with City National, even suggesting Wells Fargo might take notice of the Beverly Hills bank. Ms. Chamberlain said part of the lure behind the acquisition of First Los Angeles, City National's first takeover, was that it, too, was considered a bank to the stars. Using that as a guideline, she said, it wouldn't be unreasonable for City National to also show an interest in Santa Monica Bank, another bank frequented by the entertainment industry. "It's just too sweet a prize to sit there for too long without someone picking it up," she said. Both Mr. Chaney and Santa Monica Bank president and chief executive Aubrey L. Austin dismissed the idea of City National buying Santa Monica. "They're not going to pay the price it would take to buy Santa Monica. It's too expensive," Mr. Chaney said. "They're very disciplined in how they go about buying an institution."
Save $400 off your subscription. Special offer ends April 30, 2017.
No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.
Have an account? Sign In