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2 More Southland Banks Being Acquired

Deals: Orange-based BYL will merge with PBOC, while East West will buy Century City-based Prime Bank.


Two more Southland banks said Thursday they have agreed to be acquired in separate deals, just a day after Inglewood-based Imperial Bancorp announced a $1.2-billion merger with a Michigan-based bank.

Orange-based BYL Bancorp, which has been under pressure from investors and regulators for months, said Thursday it signed a merger agreement with PBOC Holdings, parent of People's Bank of California.

Los Angeles-based PBOC agreed to pay about $39 million in cash, or $15 a share, for the parent of Bank of Yorba Linda, which has seven branches and assets of $322 million.

The combined institution will have 31 branches in Southern California and $3.6 billion in assets.

"The combination of PBOC and BYL is a key move in our company's overall strategic plan to transform PBOC from a traditional thrift into a bank," said Rudolf Guenzel, PBOC president.

A Nevada-based investment group that owns a large stake in BYL has been pushing the bank's officers to find a buyer and improve the firm's financial performance.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. this summer ordered BYL to boost its capital levels and reduce its dependence on loan securitizations.

BYL shares closed Thursday on Nasdaq at $10.56, up 44 cents, before the deal was announced. PBOC shares, also traded on Nasdaq, closed at $6.13, up 9 cents.

Also on Thursday, East West Bancorp said it plans to buy Century City-based Prime Bank for $14.5 million in cash and stock.

San Marino-based East West, with $2.3 billion in assets, said it was interested in Prime Bank's specialty services for the entertainment and real estate industries.

East West shares rose 3 cents to $19 on Nasdaq before the deal was announced. Prime Bank, which has $110 million in assets, is privately held.

Both deals are expected to close in early 2001.

Meanwhile, investors continued to express concern about the stock-swap sale of $7.4-billion-asset Imperial Bancorp to Detroit-based Comerica Inc. Analysts said Wall Street remains worried about the quality of Imperial's loans, particularly if the economy sours.

Comerica shares fell 56 cents to $54.56 on the New York Stock Exchange, after diving $5.19 on Wednesday. Imperial fell 31 cents to $24.13, also on the NYSE.

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