First California rejects PacWest takeover bid
Westlake Village-based First California Financial Group has spurned an unsolicited takeover offer from Los Angeles-based PacWest Bancorp.
First California, a $2 billion bank whose profits dropped drastically in the first quarter, is under pressure from three major shareholders to sell itself and has hired an investment banking firm to help evaluate its options. The company said it received an “unsolicited and highly conditional offer” to be taken over in exchange for shares in PacWest, a $5.4 billion bank that has been steadily expanding its footprint in the Tri-Counties, most recently by besting an Oregon bank for control of San Luis Obispo-based American Perspective Bank.
First California said May 9 that it rejected PacWest’s offer. The company said in a release that it asked for more information about the proposed deal, but PacWest would not enter into a non-disclosure agreement or provide more details unless First California signed an exclusivity agreement that would prevent it from talking to other potential buyers.
“The First California Board did not believe that it was in the best interests of stockholders to grant exclusivity to PacWest in the absence of satisfactory clarification of the terms and value of its proposal,” the bank holding company said in a release.
PacWest could not immediately be reached for comment.
In recent months, three investor groups – the Pohlad family of Minnesota, Castine Capital Management of Boston and Basswood Capital Management of New York – have urged First California’s leaders to take strong action to improve the outlook for shareholders, who have watched their stock trade at low prices despite the bank’s strong deposit base. Together the investors own more than 20 percent of First California.