analysts say more bids could be on the way. The $585 million-asset bank said last week that it had received an unsolicited offer from an unnamed bidder. Although it deemed that offer "unacceptable," Pacific Bank has engaged Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., New York, "to assist in exploring strategic alternatives for increasing shareholder value." John P. Halicky, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Pacific Bank, said he could not comment on its long-term plans. But when management says it has hired advisers, "that usually means they are looking to sell the bank," said Steve Didion, an analyst at Hoefer & Arnett in San Francisco. Pacific's stock price has surged this year since closing Dec. 31 at $44. At midday Monday, the stock was at $58.50 a share. California is a hot market, and banks in Pacific's size range probably get offers regularly, said Gerry Findley, an Anaheim, Calif., investment banker. But it is rare for such solicitations to be disclosed, he said. "Most of the so-called proposals never get to the public," Mr. Findley said. "That they are talking about it usually means something is up. Either they don't know how to handle the offer, or there is more to it than just scratching the surface." If Pacific Bank is looking to sell, there should be plenty of interest, said Hans Schroeder, a community bank analyst also with Hoefer & Arnett. Pacific is one of a shrinking number of banks in the state with more than $500 million of assets but less than $1 billion - a range that would make it attractive to many midsize banks. Analysts pointed to three California banks - Western Bancorp in Newport Beach, City National Corp. in Beverly Hills, and Westamerica Bancorp. in San Rafael - along with Zions Bancorp. of Salt Lake City as potential acquirers. Pacific's strong ties to Asia could make it a good fit for other banks, too, Mr. Findley said. Among other banks with ties to Asia, Los Angeles' GBC Bancorp and First Hawaiian Inc., Honolulu, were mentioned by analysts as possible suitors for the San Francisco bank.
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