California got a small taste of bank dealmaking Wednesday that didn't involve a failed or ailing institution.
In Southern California, California United Bank announced it would acquire California Oaks State Bank in a cash-and-stock transaction. The deal is valued at about $17.3 million, or nearly 1.3 times tangible book value, potentially setting a basis of pricing for open-bank deals in the area.
Analysts say the purchase represents a breathe of fresh air for a state where deals in recent years have been for failed banks or have been unions with at least one distressed partner with very little premium, if any. Four more banks failed in California last Friday, raising the state's tally of failed banks to 10 this year.
"It's a compelling event," said Tim O'Brien, managing director at Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP. "It's a sign of things to come."
Though a small deal, if completed it will increase California United's assets by about 22%, to more than $650 million, and its deposits by 26%, to $530 million.
"This gives us the momentum to be one of the largest locally owned community banks in the San Fernando Valley," California United's chief financial officer, Karen Schoenbaum, said in a phone interview Wednesday
This deal is slightly unusual in that the buyer, a five-year-old bank with $532 million of assets, is acquiring a more senior — 12-year-old — bank. California Oaks, in Thousand Oaks, had $136.7 million of assets at June 30. It significantly exceeded requirements for being well capitalized and had low nonperforming assets to total assets, considering its home state and peer group.
California Oaks, however, has had negative returns on assets and equity in the past few quarters.
Despite its total risk-based capital ratio of 17.39%, California Oaks attempted to raise capital earlier this year. Yet in an earnings release on Aug. 5 it said it was putting the $100 million offering on hold.
Schoenbaum said the agreement stipulates that California Oaks must apply to pay off its $3.3 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds before or at the deal's closing, which is expected in the fourth quarter pending regulatory approval.
O'Brien said the pricing of the deal at nearly 1.3 times book value likely will help other area banks determine a price on future nonfailed bank deals.
"A 1.2 to 1.3 of tangible book" will likely be a common price going forward, he said.
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