Most billion-dollar community banks have skirted the surge of traditional mergers and acquisitions that has engulfed their smaller peers — until now.

The recently proposed merger between Nara Bancorp Inc. and Center Financial Corp. in Los Angeles marked the second traditional deal this year between community banks that exceeded $1 billion of assets each. The other 80-plus deals announced to date were mostly among banks below the $1 million level, especially on the seller side, according to data from Sandler O'Neill & Partners L.P.

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