11:07 AM PDT on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 (http://www.pe.com/business)

Special to The Press-Enterprise

California Bank & Trust, a subsidiary of Salt Lake City-based Zions Bancorporation, announced it had opened a new lending division focused on small to mid-sized businesses in Inland Southern California. The new division will be based in Corona with offices in Chino and Rancho Cucamonga, according to a company executive.

“We really want to grow our footprint in the region,” said Patrick Davern, senior vice president and regional manager of the bank’s Orange/Inland Region. “There is plenty of demand for small business banking and a lot of great businesses out there.”

Davern, who declined to disclose the division’s start-up costs, said with the hiring of bankers, analysts and support staff, the new division represented “a major investment” on the part of California Bank & Trust. He said the new division was targeting businesses with revenues between $10 million and $15 million annually.

“We are looking to do at least $40 million to $50 million in the year going forward in the Inland Empire,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be profitable this year or profitable next year, but we expect the division will merit our investment.”

To oversee the Inland Empire Small Business Division of California Bank & Trust in Corona is Ted Hildreth, a 24-year veteran who has focused on small business lending for more than a decade, according to a company statement.

Based in San Diego, the company operates 11 branches in the two-county region, including six outlets acquired from Vineyard Bank. California Bank & Trust acquired the deposits and loans of Vineyard Bank on July 27, 2009.

“We have found that small businesses are under served,” he said. “It’s rare to find a community bank that has the strength behind it …. and access to capital that we have.”

On April 29, California Bank & Trust reported net income for the first quarter of $9.9 million compared with $17 million in the first quarter of 2009. The decrease was mainly due to higher provision expense and operating expenses and a one-time tax charge, partially offset by a reduction in securities related losses.

In a note to customers, David Blackford, California Bank & Trust’s president and chief executive officer, said “last year we took steps to reduce risk on our balance sheet with the goal of positioning the bank for improved financial performance this year.”

The first quarter of 2010 did not include any securities losses, compared to $9.9 million in the first quarter of 2009, the company said.


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