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Banc of California set to merge with rival PacWest

<i>David McNew/Getty Images</i><br/>In an aerial view
David McNew/Getty Images
In an aerial view

By Elisabeth Buchwald, CNN

New York (CNN) — PacWest Bancorp (PACW) is set to merge with Banc of California and raise $400 million in equity, according to a joint announcement the banks released Tuesday afternoon, ahead of their second-quarter earnings results.

Under the terms of the deal, both California-based banks will merge into one bank called Pacific Western Bank.

The move aims to restore confidence in the sector after the collapse of three regional banks earlier this year.

“The combined company will have the strength and market position to support the banking needs of small and medium-size businesses in California and to capitalize on the opportunities created for stronger financial institutions in the wake of the recent banking industry turmoil,” said Jared Wolff, president and CEO of Banc of California, in a statement. Wolff will continue to serve as president and CEO of the merged bank.

PacWest reported a $197.4 million loss in net income last quarter. The Beverly Hills-based bank also reported total deposits declined by $290 million last quarter, to $27.9 billion. Banc of California reported a much smaller decline in net income of $2.4 million last quarter. Total deposits for the Santa Ana-based bank declined slightly from $7 billion to $6.9 billion last quarter.

PacWest has been under considerable pressure after Silicon Valley Bank failed in March, sending shock waves across regional banks in the United States. Most regional banks were able to regain their footing last quarter by paying higher interest rates on deposits at the expense of their profits in an effort to prevent depositors from transferring their funds to other banks, second-quarter earnings reports from various regional banks show.

Before collapsing in March, SVB was America’s 16th-largest bank. But it collapsed suddenly, following a panicked, social media-fueled run on the bank.

Like many other banks, SVB had plowed billions into US government bonds during an era of near-zero interest rates. What seemed then to be a safe bet quickly came unstuck, as the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates aggressively to tame inflation, eroding the value of SVB’s bond portfolio.

Centerbridge Partners and Warburg Pincus are funding the all-stock merger transaction, which is expected to be finalized by early next year, according to the announcement.

PacWest stock closed down 27% on Tuesday following early reports from The Wall Street Journal of the deal. However, it was up 30% in after-hours trading. Once the deal closes, PacWest shareholders are set to receive 0.66 of a share of Banc of California for each share they own.

Meanwhile, Banc of California closed 11% higher. The stock was up around 10% in after-hours trading.

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