No. 1 and No. 2 Korean American banks BBCN and Wilshire to merge

December 7, 2015
BBCN, Wilshire

(Korea Times file)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles staff

Weeks following an announcement by BBCN Bancorp, the largest Korean American bank, that it had received a merger proposal by No. 3-largest Hanmi Bank, BBCN said Sunday it will merge with No. 2 Wilshire Bancorp instead.

Combined assets of the two banks will total more than $12.3 billion, three times the size of Hanmi’s estimated $4.2 billion.

BBCN and Wilshire will make an official announcement today in Los Angeles’ Koreatown to detail merger agreements.

According to sources, BBCN will have 60 percent of the new bank’s share, and Wilshire 40 percent. Currently, BBCN’s assets are at an estimated $7.57 billion and Wilshire at $4.73 billion.

By the time Hanmi sent a public merger proposal to BBCN at the end of November, BBCN and Wilshire heads had already entered private talks, sources said.

Sources said cooperation between Koh Suk-hwa, Wilshire’s largest shareholder and chairman of the board, and Kevin Kim, BBCN CEO, was key in sealing the deal.

The new bank will have 87 branches with 1,530 employees around the country.