Two weeks after announcing plans to open its first retail branch in Los Angeles County, First PacTrust Bancorp Inc. in Chula Vista, Calif., has struck its deal to buy a bank there.

The $837 million-asset parent of Pacific Trust Bank said Monday that it is buying Gateway Bancorp in Cerritos, Calif., for $17 million in cash.

The $187 million-asset Gateway is the parent company of Gateway Business Bank, which has three offices in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and Mission Hills Mortgage Bankers, which has 22 loan production centers in California, Oregon and Arizona. In a news release, First PacTrust President and Chief Executive Officer Gregory A. Mitchell said the deal would broaden the company's banking footprint and enable it to "take advantage of market opportunities" in mortgage lending throughout the West Cost.

The deal, expected to close in the second half of this year, would be the first-ever acquisition for First PacTrust, which has grown largely through de novo branching since it converted from a credit union in 2000. Late last year it opened a branch in La Jolla in San Diego County and in May it said would open a branch in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles County.

Once the deal for Gateway is completed, First PacTrust would have more than $1 billion of assets and 14 branches in Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties.

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