Group plans de novo bank in Las Vegas

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A group in Las Vegas is looking to form a bank.

Organizers of Sterling Bank have filed an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to open a branch in the western part of the city.

John Miller, a veteran bank investor, is expected to serve as Sterling's CEO. He is a director at Pioneer Bank in Austin, Texas, and Mission Valley Bank in Sunland, Calif., according the FDIC application.

Donald Murray, a former CEO of Commerce Bank of Temecula Valley in Murrieta, Calif., would be the president. LouEllen Ficke, Commerce's former chief financial officer, is also among Sterling's organizers.

The group is looking to raise $20 million, said Murray, who has been serving as a consultant since resigning from Commerce on Aug. 31.

Russell Rosenblum, an organizer who is expected to become the bank's chairman, will own at least 10% of the bank's shares, according to the application.

"We want to build a business bank where we put the business first, the owner second and the employees next," Murray said. "We'll offer old fashioned service with high tech delivery systems."

Murray said the business model would closely resemble that of Commerce, which agreed last month to sell itself to Nano Financial Holdings. The bank had a previous agreement to sell to AltaPacific Bancorp but it fell through.

"We think there’s a tremendous opportunity" in Las Vegas, Murray said. "This place was hit hard during the recession ... but it is back and it is getting better."

The number of banks operating in the Las Vegas area has declined from 47 to 39 since the end of 2007, according to FDIC data. The market was home to nearly $55 billion in deposits on June 30.

A dozen banks in Nevada failed between July 2008 and June 2013, including eight around Las Vegas.

Sterling's other organizers including Robyn Casperson, Samuel Johnson, Bradley Mayer, Timothy O'Reilly and Stacy Williams.

The comment period for Sterling's application ends on Feb. 4.

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