The ailing Bank of San Clemente, long on the industry's death watch, cheated the executioner Thursday by closing a $1.5-million deal that makes it one of the healthier banks in Orange County.
Irvine real estate developer John E. Wertin turned over his check in exchange for 1.5 million new shares of stock in the bank's holding company, San Clemente Bancorp, making him 80% owner of the company and raising the bank's capital well above what regulators had required.
He then left on a scheduled trip to China.
"It's such a great feeling," said Michael Dunahee, the bank's president. "I've been here for two years, and it's been two years of hoping and wondering and worrying."
Dunahee wasn also excited because the bank had turned in its first profitable quarter in three years, posting $67,000 in net income for the third quarter. And the bank was profitable in October, too, he said.