Citing the possibility of regulatory orders that might impose higher capital requirements, three West Coast banking companies are moving forward with stock offerings.

Cathay General Bancorp in Los Angeles is seeking $70.5 million of capital, and Pacific Continental Corp. in Eugene, Ore., is seeking $35 million, in offerings begun Monday.

And Provident Financial Holdings Inc. in Riverside, Calif., has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to $46 million of common stock.

All three companies said that their capital ratios are above the typical regulatory minimums but that they could be asked to maintain the ratios at elevated levels.

This is the second time in recent months that the $11.7 billion-asset Cathay has come to market. It added $31.7 million of capital last quarter by selling 3.5 million shares of common stock.

Both Cathay and the $1.2 billion-asset Pacific Continental — which have struggled with troubled construction loans lately — said they could expand their offerings by 15% if demand justifies it.

At the $1.6 billion-asset Provident, nonperforming assets made up 5.59% of total assets at June 30. The company said in its SEC filing that the Office of Thrift Supervision has designated it as "troubled" and that it recently submitted a three-year plan for maintaining capital at or above current levels. It also submitted a plan for reducing its levels of classified assets and nontraditional mortgages.

Provident said that regulators have already restricted its asset growth and dividend payments and that, based on recent conversations with the OTS, it believes it may have to enter into a formal regulatory agreement, such as a memorandum of understanding. It said such an agreement might impose higher capital requirements.

Though Provident has yet to report its results for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, Cathay and Pacific Continental have done so. Both highlighted slight improvements in credit quality but still cautioned about regulatory actions. Cathay said that, because of heavy losses this year, it expects some type of supervisory action that might require boosting its capital. Pacific Continental said that a recent Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. exam probably would result in a memorandum of understanding addressing capital levels.

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