Former Opus chief leads group behind proposed California bank

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Stephen Gordon is planning a return to commercial banking.

Gordon, who parted ways with Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., in November 2018, is leading a group planning Genesis Bank in Southern California. The group has applied with the California Department of Business Oversight and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Organizers are looking to raise $53.3 million in initial capital, with Gordon investing about half of the funds. Gordon would also serve as chairman and CEO of Genesis Bank, according to the group’s application with the FDIC.

Genesis would be based between Newport Beach and Irvine. It plans to open three more branches in Orange and Los Angeles counties in its first two years of operation. The bank would serve those counties, along with contiguous markets.

Stephen Gordon, who stepped down as CEO of Opus Bank in 2018, is looking to form a new bank.

Genesis “will be a commercial bank focused on serving the banking needs of small and [midsize] businesses, the owners of such businesses, business professionals and owners and investors of income-producing properties,” the filing said.

Services will include commercial loans and deposits, property financing, treasury management and specialty products such as escrow and 1031 exchange services. Genesis also plans to serve high-net-worth individuals.

Genesis plans to hire a president and chief operating officer. Its directors include Warren Kessler, a lawyer at Greenberg Glusker, and Richard Sanchez, a longtime executive at Opus.

Gordon, in the fall of 2010, led a $460 million recapitalization of Bay Cities National Bank, renaming it Opus in hopes of building a West Coast powerhouse. The bank grew aggressively, opening branches and pursuing acquisitions.

But Opus struggled a few years ago, reporting multiple quarters of losses in 2016. It exited certain businesses and reduced the size of several loan portfolios. Though it returned to profitability, the bank continued to underperform in 2018.

Opus was recently sold to Pacific Premier Bancorp in Irvine for about $1 billion.

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