Magazine article American Banker

BNP Not Missing a Beat with United Calif. Deal

Magazine article American Banker

BNP Not Missing a Beat with United Calif. Deal

Article excerpt

BNP Paribas, whose deal to buy BancWest Corp. has yet to close, is already acting on its plan to build on the deal.

The French company announced Sunday that it had agreed to buy United California Bank of Los Angeles from Tokyo's UFJ Holdings for $2.4 billion in cash in a move it sees giving it a larger platform for growth and cross-selling in the western United States.

BNP, a $646 billion-asset financial services conglomerate based in Paris, recently has emphasized its intention to cross-sell its products, particularly insurance, through BancWest's network in the West.

In May, when it announced the BancWest deal, it made clear that it would like to grow further in the region, but few thought that it would cut another so soon. (The BancWest deal is slated to close Dec. 20.)

"We've been looking for a way to enter Southern California," said Don J. McGrath, the president and chief operating officer of $19.8 billion-asset BancWest. "This is just a fabulous transaction for us to enter the market with scale and have the ability to immediately be able to be seen as a major competitor both from the strength of the network and breadth of our product."

The companies are complementary in several ways, said Mr. McGrath, who is also the president and chief executive officer of Bank of the West, one of BancWest's two banking subsidiaries (the other is First Hawaiian Bank).

BancWest's loan portfolio is about 60% consumer lending and 40% commercial, he said, and United California's is the reverse.

In addition, United California, which Mr. McGrath calls a "very typical California commercial bank," has a niche in the Asian-American market, pursuing business in the Japanese and Chinese communities in which it operates.

BancWest, based in Honolulu, has a similar approach in Northern California and would like more of that business. …

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