A struggling start-up bank in Austin, Tex., said it plans to sell itself to a Dallas company that has a plan for boosting its profits and branching into other parts of the state.

The sale of $25 million-asset City National Bank to Empire Financial Corp. awaits regulatory approval, which is expected in late July or early August, said Jack Collins, City National's president, chairman, and chief executive officer.

Empire, a diversified company focused on insurance and leasing, then is to buy the 51% of the bank owned by $251 million-asset WNB Bancshares of Odessa, Tex., Mr. Collins said. The 96 shareholders that own the remainder are expected to sell out as well, Mr. Collins said.

The purchase price was not disclosed. City National has struggled to turn a profit since opening in June 1998 with a focus on small- and midsize-business customers. The bank reported a $330,000 net loss last year, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Mr. Collins said it started turning a profit only three months ago.

He said he expects profits to improve further after the Empire deal closes because the latter plans to infuse capital, and open branches in Dallas and Austin. City National had $4.4 million of equity capital in December, according to the FDIC.

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