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Independence Bank's Deal for CommerceBank Fails

December 31, 1987|JAMES S. GRANELLI

The proposed $16-million acquisition of CommerceBank by Independence Bank fell through Wednesday, marking the second time this year that the Encino-based Independence has failed to complete negotiations to acquire a Newport Beach bank.

Executives at both banks said they were far apart on many issues and decided to call off the talks a day before the deal was due to expire under terms of a letter of intent signed in early November.

"We were not looking for anyone when Independence came to us," said Clyde H. Gossert, president of CommerceBank. "But they made us a very attractive offer, and the directors wanted to consider it."

Steadily Growing

Independence, however, withdrew the original offer, and CommerceBank was not interested in talking about any other deal, he said.

CommerceBank has been a steadily growing, profitable bank--the biggest independent based in Orange County in the last two years. Most industry observers believed it would acquire other banks, not sell itself.

Independence, which has long coveted an Orange County presence, tried earlier this year to acquire American Merchant Bank in Newport Beach. That deal, however, fell through as terms kept changing during negotiations, said one industry source familiar with the negotiations.

"We're not looking at anything specific, but we still have an interest in Orange County," said Kemal Shoaib, chairman of Independence. "We already have a loan production office in Huntington Beach, but we have not decided if we now want to do more than that."

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