Fast-growing Western Bancorp, which last week postponed the purchase of one Southern California banking company, announced Wednesday that it is buying another one.

It said it would buy PNB Financial Group Inc. for stock worth about $81.1 million. Both companies are based in Newport Beach.

Western has $2.1 billion of assets and owns Southern California Bank and Bank of Santa Monica. PNB has $267 million and owns Pacific National Bank, which has branches in Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, and Orange as well as five mortgage origination offices in California and Arizona.

Pacific National would be merged into Southern California Bank.

Each PNB share would be traded for one of Western. The deal, expected to close in the first quarter works out to 2.79 times PNB's book value and 14 times earnings. The deal would close in the first quarter.

"This transaction greatly benefits PNB shareholders, as they will now own a more liquid stock in a stronger and faster-growing banking franchise which is better positioned to take advantage of the vibrant Southern California economy," said Allen C. Barbieri, PNB's chief executive officer.

Last week Western said it was delaying its planned merger with Bank of Los Angeles while reviewing a $30 million lawsuit against that bank. The deal had been scheduled to close last week.

Western also has a deal pending to acquire Peninsula Bank of San Diego.

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