The merger that will combine three of Japan’s largest banks as UJF Holdings Inc. is not quite done, but the Los Angeles bank formed when two of the trio’s L.A. banks consolidated has opened for business and is intent on increasing its wealth management business.

United California Bank, a combination of $9.1 billion-asset Sanwa Bank California and $1.9 billion-asset Tokai Bank California, opened last Monday. It says its new name and a marketing campaign will help the wealth management operation bring in more business.

Leading that operation is James Ely. He headed Sanwa’s Eureka Advisors wealth management unit, which is now part of United California Bank and is keeping its name.

Mr. Ely said the United California Bank name will introduce Sanwa’s products and services to Tokai’s clients and give Eureka’s products a bigger audience.

“We can now reach customers who were going elsewhere to meet their wealth management needs,” he said. “United California is going to be recognized more as a California bank instead of as an Asian bank.”

(The bigger merger will combine Sanwa Bank Ltd., Tokai Bank Ltd., and Toyo Trust and Banking Co. Ltd. as UJF Holdings, which will have assets of $780 billion. The deal was announced in March 2000 and is to be wrapped up by yearend.)

Eureka Advisors has a $2 billion proprietary mutual fund family, the Eureka Funds, that is distributed primarily to bank customers. Two more Eureka mutual funds are to be added by yearend, Mr. Ely said. Eureka Advisors also sells annuities and offers brokerage accounts, asset management, financial planning, and trust accounts.

Mr. Ely said Eureka’s advisers will be sell to depositors of the former Tokai Bank California, which did not have mutual funds or wealth management services, and that United California Bank plans to expand its wealth management business into Sacramento and Silicon Valley.

Burton Greenwald, a wealth analyst based in Philadelphia, said the name change may not be such a great idea. Sanwa built its U.S. business “by connecting international clients with domestic advisers and their investment products,” he said. “The Sanwa name has a certain reputation. United California Bank does not have that instant name recognition.”

That seemed to be true in a promotion last week. Throughout Tuesday’s baseball game at Dodger Stadium between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants — United California Bank Night — longtime Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully kept referring to the evening as “Sanwa Bank Night,” Mr. Ely said.

“It is our mission to get the name out there,” he said. “I guess the best place to start might be Vin Scully.


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