ST. LOUIS - First Banks America Inc. is continuing its California shopping spree with plans to buy a $177 million-asset bank that regulators criticized last year for being too dependent on foreign deposits.

First Banks America, a majority owned subsidiary of $5.2 billion-asset First Banks Inc., said it would pay $29.5 million in cash to purchase Commercial Bank of San Francisco. It would be the 15th acquisition made by First Banks America or First Banks Inc. in California since 1994.

First Banks America would pay $17.75 per share for the privately held Commercial - an 83% premium above the bank's book value of $16.1 million. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Commercial had come under regulatory scrutiny last year for potentially exposing itself to money laundering by taking more than a third of its deposits from Russia and Eastern Europe.

Since then Commercial has been exiting the business. The bank said it had expected most of the Russian and Eastern European accounts to be closed by Friday.

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