A three-branch bank in Los Angeles this month pulled off a tricky feat that lots of small banks would love to match: It raised money from new investors — at a good price.

Among the wave of community banks that have gone to market this month, 1st Enterprise Bank (FENB) was the rare bank below $1 billion of assets to sell shares at a premium to its equity. Its $12.5 million private placement on May 16 shows that Wall Street will indeed pay up to buy into tiny lenders, if they have a number of key things going for them.

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