San Diego's Bank of Commerce took another step toward its $1 billion- asset goal, announcing plans this week to acquire Rancho Vista (Calif.) National Bank for about $37.4 million in stock.

In the pooling-of-interests deal, fast-growing Bank of Commerce has offered roughly $28.75 per share for Rancho Vista-a whopping 4.08 times book value. Acquiring $123 million-asset Rancho Vista would boost Bank of Commerce's assets to about $680 million.

"This transaction will significantly expand the Bank of Commerce franchise as we head toward our goal of being the premier banking institution in the region and also a billion-dollar bank," said Bank of Commerce president Peter Q. Davis.

The deal, expected to close this summer, would unite two banks that have made strong commitments to Small Business Administration lending. Rancho Vista, with three branches in Southern California, is San Diego County's third-largest SBA lender. Bank of Commerce is the nation's top SBA lender.

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