BBCN and Wilshire merger to create $12.3 billion Korean American bank giant

December 8, 2015
BBCN CEO Kevin Kim, second from left, shakes hands with Wilshire Chairman Koh Suk-hwa, right, during an official announcement of the two banks' merger inside Oxford Palace Hotel in Los Angeles' Koreatown Monday. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

BBCN CEO Kevin Kim, second from left, shakes hands with Wilshire Chairman Koh Suk-hwa, right, during an official announcement of the two banks’ merger inside Oxford Palace Hotel in Los Angeles’ Koreatown Monday. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles staff

BBCN’s buy-out of Wilshire Bancorp, which when completed will create the largest Korean American bank with assets totaling $12.3 billion, was officially announced by executives Monday.

Gathered inside the Oxford Palace Hotel in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, BBCN and Wilshire — the No. 1 and No. 2 of Korean American banks — announced they would proceed under a merger of equals.

Under the merger, BBCN will take 59 percent of shares, and Wilshire 41 percent. BBCN CEO Kevin Kim will head the company, with Wilshire Chairman Koh Suk-hwa taking the position of chairman of the board, which will comprise nine BBCN members and seven from Wilshire.

Leaders said they expect to establish the newly united bank — name and logo not yet determined — during the first half of next year.

Six BBCN and Wilshire heads have formed a committee to oversee the merger, they said.

Two weeks ago, Hanmi Bank publicly proposed a merger with BBCN.

“There were too many uncertainties in merging with Hanmi Bank,” Kim said. “We came to the conclusion that it would be advantangeous to unite with Wilshire at this point in time.”

Koh said Wilshire celebrated the 35th anniversary of its foundation last week and that the merger marks a new chapter in development and achievement.

“We’re aiming to become the largest, best new bank for Korean Americans and other minorities,” he said.

The merger must first gain the approval from financial supervisory authorities like the FDIC.

BBCN’s assets are currently valued at about $7.6 billion, and Wilshire at $4.7 billion. When merged, the new operation will be the seventh-largest California-based bank.

Hanmi, which stands to become No. 2, will trail with $4.2 billion in assets.

Kim said talks with Wilshire for a merger began in September.

“I felt Koh’s vision matched mine,” Kim said.

Combined, BBCN and Wilshire operate 85 branches and have 1,530 employees.

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