Hanmi Financial (HAFC) in Los Angeles has hired the former head of First California Bank as its new president and chief executive.
Hanmi announced late Tuesday that Chong Guk Kum would replace Jay S. Yoo as president of the holding company and its $2.8 billion-asset bank. Kum had held the same posts at Westlake Village-based First California, which was sold in May to PacWest Bancorp of Los Angeles.
Kum's appointment comes some five months after Hanmi announced that it had hired a financial advisor to help it explore its strategic options, including a potential sale. When asked if Kum's hiring meant that Hanmi was no longer on the block a company spokesman said he could not comment.
In a news release, Hanmi Chairman Joseph K. Rho hinted that the Hanmi planned to stay independent and might even be an acquirer of other Korean-American-owned banks. Kum is a "well-respected banking executive in the financial community, and we believe his knowledge and exceptional experience in banking and finance will help us grow and transform our company and the Korean-American banking space in the coming years," Rho said.
Hanmi was hit hard by the real estate bust and has spent the last few years clearing out problem assets and shrinking its balance sheet. In the news release, Rho credited the outgoing CEO, Yoo, with leading the company's turnaround.
"We sincerely thank him for his service and wish him a long and enjoyable retirement," Rho said.