Fortune has smiled on Greater Bay Bancorp - for the second consecutive year.

The Time Inc. magazine's Sept. 4 issue ranks $4.1 billion-asset Greater Bay 77th in its annual list of the 100 fastest-growing companies, up four notches from last year. No other bank made the list in 2000 or 1999.

David Kalkbrenner, president and chief executive officer of the Palo Alto, Calif., holding company, said the repeat came as a complete surprise.

"We had no contact with them," he said of the Fortune editors. "I didn't know we had made it until I saw the magazine. They didn't even call to tell us."

To make the top 100, a company has to have had 30% growth three years running in revenues and earnings per share.

"Under that criterion, I think the fact that a bank made the list is significant," Mr. Kalkbrenner said.

Fortune said Greater Bay benefited from "Silicon Valley riches" and its own strategy of "acquiring community banks and allowing them to remain independent," which is precisely what many analysts have been saying since 1996, when the company was founded.

"They're in the right place at the right time," said David Winton, of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in New York. "Silicon Valley and the Bay Area is one of the hottest markets in the world. But as they have acquired banks, they haven't changed the names and they haven't touched the front-line people, so they've been able to take full advantage of the local economy."

Greater Bay, which was created by the merger of Cupertino National Bancorp and Mid-Peninsula Bancorp, has bought seven banks. An eighth merger, with Bank of Petaluma, is pending.

"Our strategy has served us very well," Mr. Kalkbrenner said.

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