Sanwa Bank California and Tokai Bank of California released details Monday of their plans to combine, beginning in July, as a result of the merger of their Japanese parents and a third Japanese bank.
The new U.S. institution, to be named United California Bank, will have $11.2 billion in assets and about $6.8 billion in deposits, putting it on a similar deposit footing in the state as Bank of the West, in San Francisco (a unit of BancWest Corp. of Honolulu) and City National Corp. of Beverly Hills.
Sanwa Bank California and Tokai Bank of California, both products of U.S. acquisitions by their parent companies in the 1970s and based in Los Angeles, are two of the few domestically chartered units to survive the Asian financial crisis of 1998, which caused some cash-starved Japanese banks to shutter or sell their U.S. subsidiaries. For instance, Zions Bancorp bought San Francisco-based Sumitomo Bank of California in 1998 and made it part of Zions California Bank and Trust subsidiary.
Since then, ongoing asset quality problems at Japanese banks have forced the merger of several regional institutions in that country.
Early last year Sanwa Bank Ltd., Tokai Bank Ltd., and Toyo Trust and Banking Co. agreed to combine into one company with $780 billion of assets. On Monday the newly created holding company UFJ Holdings Inc. became the official parent of the three Japanese banks, which are slated to merge their operations over the next year.
Despite the turmoil experienced by its parent, during the same period Sanwa Bank California has improved what had been a weak spot its deposit base.
Their franchise has improved a lot over the last few years, and a lot of that has to do with the consolidation of the California banking market, said Jonathan Ukeiley, a director with Standard & Poors, which has a long-term credit rating of BBB-plus rating on the company.
By far the larger of the two banks, Sanwa Bank California has $5.3 billion in deposits and $9.3 billion in assets, and 108 branches.
Though it has strong ties to the states Asian-American communities, with 14 of its offices offering bilingual services, Sanwa Bank California has targeted a range of customers and services, including trust and financial planning and agricultural lending. Its portfolio is split between retail and commercial loans.
Tokai Bank of California, in contrast, has stayed away from retail banking. Its core activities are cash management services and real estate lending. It has about 400 employees in 15 locations, including three loan production offices, with business is concentrated in greater Los Angeles, said vice chairman J. Richard Belliston.
He added that it is unclear if any layoffs will result from the merger.
The banks president, Kazunori Nishimoto, will have a role in the new entity.
The United California name was last used by a predecessor of First Interstate Bancorp. in 1981.