While big Eastern banks cannot begin acquiring California banks until 1991, a proposed change in state law would allow foreign-owned California banks to merge with other financial institutions in the state immediately.
The measure, which some worry could trigger a wave of acquisitions by foreign-owned banks before 1991, was passed by the Legislature and is awaiting Gov. George Deukmejian's signature. It was passed on an "urgency" basis and would become effective immediately upon the governor's signature.
Deukmejian has not disclosed whether he will sign the bill.
The measure, an amendment to the state's banking law, would allow foreign banks that already have operations in California to merge with state banks before banks outside the Western region can come into California in 1991. It would restore powers taken away from foreign-owned California banks last year when the Legislature passed the state's interstate banking law.
Big New York banks opposed the amendment, claiming that it gives the Japanese an unfair head start in bidding for choice California banks. The California Bankers Assn. and officials of foreign banks, who support the bill, said it merely restores powers that were inadvertently taken away and grants foreign-owned banks here the same rights as other California banks.