gone from having an axe over its neck to being a player in the mergers and acquisitions market - no small feat for a bank once considered among the least likely to survive the state's recession. Recapitalized and flush with cash, Pacific recently completed the acquisition of Burlingame Bancorp for $8.6 million, increasing its assets to more than $450 million. And the purchase could be just a beginning, according to president and chief executive Michael Tun Zan. "We're looking at several banks," Mr. Tun Zan said. "There are several targets that are attractive. But we're going to take our time. We're not going to rush into anything." The purchase is a big change for the Pacific Bank, which has made great strides since it was placed under a federal consent order in 1993. Formerly a $900 million institution, Pacific was forced to downsize, to around $360 million, in order to survive. "It's going to be a tough job for them to rebuild back to what they once were," said Campbell Chaney, analyst with Rodman & Renshaw Inc. in San Francisco. "They lost a lot of customers during their bad times." Pacific was badly stung by the plunging commercial real estate prices that crippled many banks in the state earlier in the decade. In February 1993, regulators imposed a consent order requiring the bank to improve capital, liquidity, operations, lending, policies and procedures, and planning. Following a recapitalization, the consent order was lifted in August 1995, and the bank found itself with $60 million of excess capital. "The bank got sidetracked by its asset-quality problems," said San Francisco-based analyst Joseph K. Morford of Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. "Now that they've got that cleared up, the key for them is to start leveraging their capital base." Mr. Tun Zan has his eye on eventually increasing the bank's assets to $600 million. Pacific turned its eye on Burlingame Bancorp, the holding company for Burlingame Bank and Trust Co., a $72 million-asset company based just south of San Francisco, because of its expertise in Small Business Administration lending. Pacific is best known for its trade financing. The move is the first for Pacific since a proposed merger with Western Bank of Coos Bay, Ore., was called off early in the year. Mr. Tun Zan cited dissimilarities between his bank and Western as the deciding factor. Mr. Tun Zan, who helped found Pacific in 1983 and became the bank's chief executive in October 1994, comes from a banking background stretching back to his native Burma. Trained by Standard Charter Bank, of London, Mr. Tun Zan worked in Burma until he left in the 1960s, when the government nationalized the banks. Sent by Standard Charter to work in San Francisco, Mr. Tun Zan has been in Golden State ever since. Originally the vice president of trade finance for Pacific, Mr. Tun Zan was the only member of senior management to stay when the federal consent order was placed on the bank. It's a decision Mr. Tun Zan says he does not regret. "It was a difficult time and I myself considered leaving, but only for a short while," he said. "The reason I didn't is very simple: My reputation is very important to me, and I didn't want to be associated with a failed bank."
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