Banking conferences are often an opportunity for prospective buyers to window-shop.

But First PacTrust Bancorp's management likely didn't expect one of its board members to bring home such a solid lead after attending an investor conference.

First PacTrust said Wednesday that it had agreed to buy Beach Business Bank, and First PacTrust's president and chief executive, Gregory Mitchell, credited one of his directors in a conference call Wednesday as the matchmaker.

The director, whom Mitchell would not name, was also a founding investor of Beach and struck up a conversation with Beach's president and chief executive, Robert Franko, at the conference about a possible combination.

Mitchell then had lunch with Franko to discuss the proposition, leading to a six-month courtship and then a marriage proposal. First PacTrust, of Chula Vista, Calif. expects to officially acquire the $300 million-asset Beach for about $37.4 million in the first quarter.

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