First California Financial Group (FCAL) — under pressure from activist investors to find a buyer — hired Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) to explore a sale or other strategic options.

KBW is its financial advisor and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom its legal counsel in a "strategic review process," the $2 billion-asset Westlake Village, Calif., bank said in a press release Wednesday.

First California said in February that it had hired an unnamed investment bank to explore its options after major shareholders, such as the Pohlad family and Castine Capital Management, demanded that it consider selling itself.

An unsolicited offer from PacWest Bancorp (PACW) of Los Angeles in May fueled the pressure on First California to do a deal.

Two other shareholders — Basswood Capital Management and Loeb Capital Management — have since urged the company to explore its options after rebuffing PacWest.

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