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Pacific Capital picks finance veteran as new CFO

By   /   Thursday, July 15th, 2010  /   Comments Off on Pacific Capital picks finance veteran as new CFO

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Pacific Capital Bancorp, the troubled parent firm of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, said July 15 that it has brought a Goldman Sachs Bank veteran on as its new chief financial officer.

Mark Olson, 42, takes over from Don Lafler, Pacific Capital’s interim CFO.

Olson will have his work cut out for him as Pacific Capital, the largest independent bank in the region, struggles to regain a firm financial foothold. But the appointment may be a sign that Pacific Capital executives have high hopes that a $500 million recapitalization agreement with Texas-based Ford Financial Fund will go through. That deal is critical for the banking firm, which is under regulatory pressure to become better capitalized by September or potentially be sold or liquidated.

Olson has more than 20 years of experience in finance, including a stint at Goldman Sachs Bank as vice president and finance director. He was the director of finance, corporate controller and treasurer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church, for three years. Prior to that he held a number of senior financial management positions at Westcorp, a holding company for Western Financial Bank, and WFS Financial, an auto finance company which was eventually acquired by Wachovia Corp.

“He possesses a well-rounded skill set and has extensive experience managing the finance departments of highly successful organizations,” Pacific Capital President and CEO George Leis said in a news release. “We believe Mark will be very instrumental in helping us achieve our future strategic and financial objectives.”

Olson will receive an initial annual salary of $225,000, a sign-on bonus of $100,000 and a relocation allowance of up to $55,000, according to regulatory filings. He also received 30,000 shares of Pacific Capital stock.

Olson will be the third CFO in less than three years. Stephen Masterson served as the bank’s CFO for two years but announced in December 2009 that he would resign in March, when Lafler, a long-time bank insider, stepped in.

Pacific Capital is now in a back-and-forth struggle with its bondholders over the Ford deal. The bank needs holders of at least 70 percent of its outstanding debt securities to cash in if the deal is to go through, but by June 30 only about 52 percent of the total securities needed, or $68 million, had come in. The bank extended the deadline, for the second time in a month — bondholders now have until July 26 to cash in.

In addition to getting the approval of bondholders, the recapitalization deal also needs the go-ahead from shareholders and from the U.S. Treasury, which must agree to take stock in exchange for one-fifth of its $180 million in bailout money and write off the rest. Even if the all of the pieces come together, there’s no guarantee that the deal will boost capital levels enough to satisfy federal regulators.

Pacific Capital shares were up about 1.4 percent in after-hours trading following the announcement of Olson’s appointment.

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