Upstart Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., is embarking on an ambitious branch expansion plan to go along with is acquisition of a Seattle-area bank.

Flush with capital after raising roughly $460 million last summer, Opus said last week that it is planning to open as many as 17 new branches in California, including its first in the San Francisco area. That would be in addition to the 22 branches it is acquiring in its deal for the $1.5 billion-asset Cascade Financial Corp. in Everett, Wash. That sale is expected to close June 30.

Formerly Bay Cities National Bank, the bank was renamed Opus late last year after it was recapitalized and taken over by a team of investors led by longtime California banker Stephen H. Gordon, now Opus Bank's chairman, president and chief executive officer. Though the bank has only $708 million and just five branches, all in Los Angeles County, Gordon has said that his intention is to build the bank into a "superregional" by acquiring banks and opening new branches.

Opus said last week that it has signed lease agreements to open six new branches in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties between now and the end of the year. It also has signed or is negotiating letters of intent to open 11 more branches, including several in the San Francisco area, though it did not say when those branches would open.

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