Pacific Coast Business Times Proudly serving Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:20:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Combined banks will be known as American Riviera Bank Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:20:30 +0000 The combined American Riviera Bank and The Bank of Santa Barbara will be known as American Riviera Bank, the merged institution announced Aug. 27.

Santa Barbara-based marketing agency Idea Engineering deemed that the name would have better “brand impact.” The banks proposed the merger in July, which would combine two smaller companies into a three-branch community bank. Combined assets would total more than $400 million.

The all-stock merger, which still needs shareholder and regulatory approval, is planned to close Jan. 1, 2016.

“The decision on naming was not taken lightly,” American Riviera Bank President and CEO Jeff DeVine said in a statement. “Both banks have strong brand loyalty within their client base and are attached to their existing names for good reasons.  However, after reviewing the branding study, it was concluded that the ‘new’ American Riviera Bank is a name that best embodies our culture and is a brand that can be further developed over time even with geographic expansion.”

The next steps include submitting applications to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the California Department of Business Oversight. American Riviera Bank and The Bank of Santa Barbara will vote on the merger in October during separate shareholder meetings.

The merged American Riviera Bank will be the second largest community bank based in Santa Barbara with branches in downtown Santa Barbara, Montecito and Goleta. It might expand to Carpinteria or the Santa Ynez Valley, Joanne Funari, interim CEO of the Bank of Santa Barbara and future chief operating officer of the proposed bank, previously told the Business Times.

There would be some job consolidations in 2016 but also growth opportunities, Devine told the Business Times in April.

The combined bank will offer mortgage and small business lending departments. It will have a legal lending limit of approximately $10 million and a risk-based capital ratio of about 12 percent.

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Amgen’s cholesterol-lowering drug Repatha gets U.S. approval Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:04:22 +0000

Thousand Oaks-based biotech giant Amgen won U.S. approval for its powerful cholesterol-lowering drug Repatha for certain patients, making it the second in a new class of treatments to come to market, Bloomberg News reported Aug. 27.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared Repatha for people with hard-to-treat levels of bad cholesterol, according to a statement from the agency.

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Dole CEO Murdock, ex-president ordered to pay $148M Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:39:34 +0000

Dole Food Co. Chief Executive Officer David Murdock and a former executive of the fresh-fruit producer were ordered to pay $148.1 million over allegations they drove down the value of the company so Murdock could take it private on the cheap in a $1.2 billion deal, Bloomberg News reported Aug. 27.

Murdock received an “improper personal benefit” from the deal, in which he paid $13.50 a share to regain control of one of the world’s largest sellers of fresh fruit and vegetables, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Travis Laster ruled Aug. 27. The judge also found Michael Carter, Dole’s ex-president, should be held personally liable for investors losses on the buyout.

The two executives’ actions “deprived shareholders of the ability to consider the merger on a fully informed basis,” the judge ruled. Laster also cleared of any wrongdoing officials at Deutsche Bank AG who advised Murdock on the deal.

Morgan Evans, a Dole spokeswoman, said the company didn’t have any comment on Laster’s ruling.

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Goleta-based Community West Bancshares reports loss Fri, 21 Aug 2015 20:33:16 +0000

Goleta-based Community West Bancshares, parent company of Community West Bank, reported a loss of $2.3 million in the second quarter of 2015 following a $7.2 million loan settlement. The company recorded a profit of $1.7 million in the same period last year.

“Community West’s second quarter results included solid loan and deposit growth and strong top-line results,” President and CEO Martin Plourd said in a news release. “We are making meaningful progress in building our franchise, and we believe that we are well positioned in our marketplace to continue to grow. Our results for the quarter again showed strong operating results (excluding the net loan litigation settlement), improving asset quality trends, including a substantial decrease in nonaccrual loans, and year-over-year loan and deposit growth. We continue to position the bank for future growth by strengthening our balance sheet, liquidity and capital base and exploring all growth opportunities.”

Total deposits for the quarter increased 6 percent to $500.6 million, compared to $472.3 million a year ago. Net loans increased 5.7 percent to $511.9 million, compared to $484.1 million a year earlier.

Foreclosure assets on the bank’s balance sheet totaled $267,000, a decrease of 56.2 percent compared to $610,000 a year earlier. Community West also redeemed $421,000 of its preferred stock during the second quarter, leaving a remaining balance of about $5.6 million.

The bank’s second quarter non-interest expenses were up significantly to about $12.4 million from around $5 million in the second quarter of last year.

The $7.2 million settlement resolved the litigation regarding residential mortgage loans sold to Residential Funding Company, the real estate investment firm. Excluding the settlement, Community West’s net income for the second quarter would have been $1.9 million.

The bank closed its real estate lending division on Aug. 14 to concentrate on commercial lending and manufactured-home mortgages, Plourd said. The company did not specify if any employees were impacted.

“With the increasing costs of regulatory compliance in residential real estate lending, along with lower anticipated volumes, increased competition and projected increasing interest rates, we decided to focus on our core strengths in commercial lending and manufactured-home mortgages,” he said in a statement.

Veteran community banker James W. Lokey was appointed on June 29 to the Community West board to strengthen the Goleta-based bank’s push into San Luis Obispo County.

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In memoriam: Former Westmont President David Winter Fri, 21 Aug 2015 20:15:09 +0000 I got to know David Winter shortly after the Business Times had begun production in the spring of 2000.

We had hired a recent Westmont graduate, Laura Polland, who turned out to be a terrific writer and our founding technology editor. And we’d been encouraged to reach out to Westmont by Ed Birch, who was an early advocate for our newspaper within the business community.

Over a lunch at the Westmont campus, I spent an hour explaining our vision for the Business Times and I got an introduction to Westmont’s own vision for its students, as a liberal arts institution focused on Christian values and ethics.

Through the years we followed Westmont’s progress in building a new campus, in surviving the devastating fire that ripped through Montecito. And always Winter was a towering presence.

Although he stepped down officially as president in 2001, he remained a trusted adviser to many on the campus and in the business community. He returned as interim president and chancellor in 2006-07.

Today, with Gayle Beebe as president, Westmont has become a nationally ranked undergraduate institution with an expansion underway into downtown Santa Barbara and an active internship program.

“Westmont continues to benefit from Dave’s contribution during his long and distinguished service,” Beebe said in a statement. “The college and our local community are fundamentally different and better because of his vision and the work he accomplished.”

Winter had an advanced cancer diagnosis this summer and returned home in early August. He died Aug. 15 at the age of 84. His memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at First Presbyterian Church on the corner of State and Constance Streets in Santa Barbara.

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Drought impacts housing projects on Central Coast Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:15:54 +0000


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Madonna plans $500 million development in SLO Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:00:20 +0000 John Madonna plans to transform 111 acres in San Luis Obispo into a $500 million mixed-use project that caters to the city’s aging population.

The proposed Froom Ranch project includes a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) that offers 350 residential units for seniors, 150,000-350,000 square feet of commercial retailers for its residents, 200 apartments and around 60-100 single-family detached units. It would be the first CCRC in San Luis Obispo County and would supplement a small supply of senior housing that fails to meet the growing need, Madonna said.

“I want to develop a property here that stands out, that benefits and endures with the community,” he said. “This is not just a development project, it’s more than that to me.”

Madonna is the son of the late construction magnate and entrepreneur Alex Madonna, who owned and operated the iconic Madonna Inn. John Madonna, who manages his San Luis Obispo-based company John Madonna Construction, purchased the land along Los Osos Valley Road near the Froom Ranch Shopping Center from his mother Phyllis Madonna in 2012.

The land is predominantly used for cattle grazing, the rock quarry and commercial development. While the initial idea was to use the land to grow his construction company, manage the quarry or use it for agriculture, plans changed when Madonna recognized the area’s expanding demand for independent, assisted and skilled nursing facilities, he said.

“Building a project over the next 10 years is not that big of a deal time-wise for me until I start looking at the people I won’t be able to serve,” said Madonna, adding that if the project isn’t expedited, it likely won’t be operating until at least 2018.

CCRCs are part independent living, part assisted living and part skilled nursing homes. It’s a tiered system that adapts to residents’ needs as they age. Healthy adults pay a hefty entrance fee that pays for future care and funds the facility’s operations. They must pass a physical to qualify for a home, apartment or condo where they can live independently. When they need more help day to day, they can move to onsite assisted living or skilled nursing facilities.

“It would be all in one,” Madonna said. It will include a recreation center, restaurants, a library, a pool, gardens, trails, a small theater and more.

When residents decide to leave or pass away, the majority of the entry fee is refunded, said Ray Walters, a principal at San Luis Obispo-based Villaggio Communities who handles marketing for the Froom Ranch project.

“There’s nothing of its kind here in SLO County,” Walters said.

The first phase of the CCRC would cost north of $100 million and the second would cost about $150-$200 million, Madonna said. If the first phase is well-received, they will proceed with the second phase.

The project is fashioned after the University Village in Thousand Oaks. Life Care Services, a Des Moines-based continuing care manager that oversees University Village, will operate the CCRC in the Froom Ranch project and Vic Montgomery of RRM Design Group in San Luis Obispo is the planner and architect. Villaggio Communities, which develops senior living communities, is negotiating the property’s acquisition, Montgomery said.

The project would use some existing wells on the property and draw from the city’s reservoirs to satisfy its water needs, Madonna said.

“We have the right infrastructure to serve it, it’s the right place at the right time,” Montgomery said. “The city of SLO has been proactive in securing a water supply for the long-term implementation of the general plan.”

The city annexed the previously unincorporated land into the city’s jurisdiction in its 2015 general plan.  The general plan requires that 50 percent of the property must be preserved as agricultural open space. It also mandates trail connections, updated roads, wetland and slope protection, height limits that accommodate mountain views, and historic building preservation.

There are 106 CCRCs in California that house more than 28,000 seniors but the practice is more common on the East Coast.

Cities throughout the state and country and trying to find ways to accommodate the growing aging population. In 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012, according to the U.S. Census.

“It’s a difficult thing we all have to face eventually. If not with ourselves, with our parents,” Madonna said. “California as a whole is underserved compared to the East Coast, especially in San Luis Obispo County.”

Madonna expects to introduce a plan that details the utility use, scope and project details to the planning department in September.

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