Opus in Calif. parts ways with its founder

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Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., is searching for a new CEO.

The $7.4 billion-asset company said in a press release Monday that Stephen Gordon had resigned from the company and the board, effective immediately.

Paul Greig, Opus' chairman, has succeeded Gordon on in interim basis. Greig, who joined the board last year, was chairman, president and CEO at FirstMerit in Akron, Ohio, when it sold itself to Huntington Bancshares.

“The board believes that new leadership will help restore growth momentum to the bank, enabling us to deliver strong results consistent with our existing strategic plan while maintaining an appropriate risk profile,” Mark Schaffer,who chairs the board’s nominating and corporate governance committee, said in the release.

Greig, who remains chairman, is a proven leader who is familiar with the bank’s strategy and strengths, Schaffer added.

Opus has retained Korn Ferry, an executive search firm, to help it find a permanent CEO.

“We need to more effectively execute on our existing strategic priorities to drive profitability and deepen client relationships as the Bank continues its maturation to the next stage," Greig said in the release.

"Most importantly, I am confident in our team's ability to continue providing our clients with the sophisticated products, solutions and personal service that they have come to expect from us, as well as to giving back to the communities we have the privilege of serving," Greig added.

Gordon, in the fall of 2010, led a $460 million recapitalization of Bay Cities National Bank, renaming it Opus in hopes of building a West Coast powerhouse. He has wasted no time; in less than a year, Opus has laid out an extensive branching strategy and announced two acquisitions.

The bank, however, has struggled in recent years, reporting multiple quarters of losses in 2016. The company exited certain businesses and reduced the size of several loan portfolios.

Though it returned to profitability, Opus has continued to underperform in 2018. Its third-quarter profit fell by 54% from a year earlier, to $9.4 million, largely due to an $8.2 million loan-loss provision. Its 0.51% return on average assets at Sept. 30 represented a steep drop from 1.09% a year earlier.

Gordon is the second high-profile community bank CEO to resign this week. Berkshire Hills in Boston announced late Monday that Michael Daly had stepped down.

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