Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., has received regulatory approval to form a broker-dealer subsidiary that will expand its merchant banking capabilities.

The Opus Financial Partners unit will help commercial customers in raising equity capital, conducting M&A transactions, restructuring their balance sheets and other activities.

Dale Cheney, senior managing director and head of Opus' merchant banking operation, will lead the new subsidiary targeting lower-middle-market companies and private-equity groups.

"The traditional investment banking model, with its layers of intermediaries and capital providers, is inefficient and outdated for today's dynamic business environment," Cheney said in a press release Monday. "We partner with these executives and their companies to provide a one-stop capital and advisory solution."

Last year, the $5.1 billion-asset Opus Bank opened a national health care business and launched a small-business lending unit.

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