Opus hires industry veteran as its new CEO

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Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., has tapped an industry veteran as its next leader.

The $7.7 billion-asset bank said in a press release Wednesday that Paul Taylor is its new president and CEO. Taylor, who was also added to Opus' board, recently served as president and CEO of Guaranty Bancorp in Denver, which was sold in January to Independent Bank in McKinney, Tex., for more than 300% of its tangible book value.

Taylor succeeded Paul Greig, who had been Opus’ interim CEO since founder Stephen Gordon abruptly resigned in November. Greig, a former CEO at FirstMerit, remains the bank’s chairman.

“I am thrilled that an experienced banker such as Paul, who has successfully managed a highly profitable, mid-sized bank, as well as held executive roles within one of the nation’s larger banks, has agreed to join Opus,” Greig said in the release.

“I have great confidence that Paul will make an excellent fit for the role and look forward to his contributions in leading the company and enhancing its earnings profile,” Greig added.

“I am confident in the team's ability to restore Opus’ growth momentum, while maintaining an appropriate risk profile,” Taylor said in the release. “Successfully executing our business strategies will enable the bank to deliver strong results, thereby enhancing shareholder value, as well as to give back to the communities we proudly serve.”

The once highflying Opus has struggled in recent years, reporting multiple quarters of losses between 2016 and 2018. It exited certain businesses and reduced the size of several loan portfolios.

The bank showed signs of recovery in the first quarter of this year, earning $10.9 million, despite nearly $2 million of one-time expenses. The results were a reversal from the $6.9 million it lost a year earlier.

Total loans increased by 4% from a year earlier to $5.5 billion. Nonperforming assets fell by 63% to $23.3 million.

Returns still remain depressed. Its return on average assets was 0.60% at March 31, a decline from 0.72% a year earlier. Return on average equity fell to 4.19% from 5.11% over the same period.

Kevin Swanson, an analyst at Hovde Group, noted that Taylor oversaw Guaranty's "recovery from material credit losses" before its sale.

"Under his leadership, [Guaranty] tended to be better than peers in several areas including credit, efficiency and profitability," Swanson said in his note to clients. "Overall, we see the appointment as a positive resolution to the company’s search and should bode well for the longer term."

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