Encino-based Independence Bank, which long has coveted an Orange County presence, has signed a preliminary agreement to buy CommerceBank of Newport Beach for more than $16 million in a deal that would create one of the 25 largest banks in the state.
Independence, with assets of $400 million, would be the surviving entity in the merger. It plans to keep all of CommerceBank employees, including top management, according to a statement issued by the two banks.
CommerceBank, which has $210 million in assets, would add three branches to the 15 Independence now has. The tentative agreement calls for its shareholders to receive as much as $16 a share in cash, with the final price depending on the bank's performance and other factors.
Both banks have been very profitable; the new institution would have about $34 million in capital.
"We are delighted to achieve the dual goals of strengthening our capital position to enhance our ability to serve our customers and giving our investors a healthy return," said Clyde H. Gossert, CommerceBank president.