Magazine article American Banker

Investors Push Commonwealth Business Bank to Explore Sale

Magazine article American Banker

Investors Push Commonwealth Business Bank to Explore Sale

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Davis

Sell now or miss out on an opportunity.

That's the message that two funds have for directors of Commonwealth Business Bank in Los Angeles.

Tiburon Opportunity Fund and Blue Pine Financial Opportunity Fund II, which collectively own just under 5% of the bank's stock, are pushing for a sale. The funds' managers, in a July 13 letter to Commonwealth's board, expressed concern that the "window of opportunity ... is closing" for the Korean-American bank to find a buyer.

"The pool of potential acquirers is shallow, with only a few large Korean-American banks ... maintaining the wherewithal to pay Commonwealth shareholders fair value," the fund managers wrote. "The board should explore partnering with these banks and other larger entities while their higher valuations still enable them to pay full value."

Efforts to contact Joanne Kim, the $805 million-asset bank's president and chief executive, were not successful. Commonwealth Business Bank is also known as CBB Bank.

Peter Bortel, who manages Tiburon, said in an interview that Hanmi Financial and BBCN Bancorp -- prominent Korean-American banks based in Los Angeles -- are among a very small number of banks with the ability to bid on Commonwealth. His concern is that Commonwealth could lose out if those companies find other acquisition targets or decide to take a pause to rebuild their capital levels.

BBCN is in the late stages of acquiring Wilshire Bancorp. …

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