Coming off a strong first quarter in which its profits more than tripled from the same period last year, Western Alliance Bancorp (WAL) in Phoenix may be looking to build up its war chest to keep the momentum going.

The $6.8 billion-asset multi-bank holding company filed a shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission seeking approval to raise up to $400 million through the sale of common and preferred stock, debt securities, warrants and other capital-raising instruments.

The company gave no timetable for when it might seek to raise capital, but filing a shelf registration permits it to pursue various options as needs arise. In its prospectus it said would use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, which could include paying down or refinancing debt, injecting capital into its subsidiary banks and financing possible acquisitions.

Western Alliance reported earnings of $9.5 million in the first quarter on the strength of a 15% increase in total loans from the same period in 2011.

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