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Earnings on rise, Hanmi Bank searches for merger partner

January 24, 2013|By E. Scott Reckard
  • The merger of Nara and Center banks to form BBCN Bank has intensified competition in the Korean American niche. Another big player in L.A.'s Koreatown, Hanmi Bank, says it is looking for its own merger partner.
The merger of Nara and Center banks to form BBCN Bank has intensified competition… (Los Angeles Times )

Hanmi Financial Corp. of Los Angeles said its profit more than doubled to $14 million in the fourth quarter as regulators lifted 3-year-old orders requiring the parent of Hanmi Bank to raise more capital.

The end of enforcement actions by state bank regulators and the Federal Reserve enables Hanmi, once the largest of the many Koreatown-based banks, to focus on arranging a financial marriage for itself, Chief Executive Jay S. Yoo said in announcing the earnings Thursday morning.

"We are exploring strategic alternatives for a possible business combination, merger or sale," Yoo said, "to stay ahead of the competition in an increasingly competitive market." 

Possible merger partners for Hanmi include Wilshire State Bank. The biggest player in the Korean American niche, BBCN Bank, was formed in late 2011 by the merger of Center Bank and Nara Bank.

Hanmi's profit, the equivalent of 44 cents a share, compared with net income of $5.5 million, 22 cents a share, in the final quarter of 2011. Full-year earnings rose from $28.1 million to $90.4 million.

The quarter's earnings were boosted by a $5.5-million benefit from a tax-related accounting adjustment. Net interest income totaled $26.4 million, up 8.2% from a year earlier.

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