First Banks Inc. is continuing its invasion of California.

The $3.8 billion-asset St. Louis-based banking company, through its First Banks America subsidiary, has agreed to buy Pacific Bay Bank of San Pablo for about $4.2 million.

The deal is expected to close in early 1998.

James F. Dierberg, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of First Banks America, said it became interested in Pacific Bay because of its strong customer base, its Northern California location, and its proximity to other First Banks branches.

"We have a cluster of banks there, and this fits nicely into that," Mr. Dierberg said.

First Banks America, with $373.6 million of assets, owns two subsidiary banks, one in California and another in Texas.

Itsparent company, which operates 126 branches in four states, has acquired more than a dozen California banks since 1994.

First Banks Inc. recently signed agreements to buy Surety Bank of Vallejo and First Commercial Bancorp of Sacramento. Both deals are expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Founded in 1991, Pacific Bay has assets of $38.7 million.

First Banks will pay Pacific Bay shareholders $14 a share.

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