On Friday July 29, 2016, BBCN Bancorp, Inc. and Wilshire Bancorp, Inc. announced they had completed a merger of equals to take effect at the end of the business day. The new entity is expected to enjoy considerable cost savings from branch closures since, as separate entities, they have dozens of outlets in close proximity. Before the merger, BBCN and Wilshire were the two largest Korean-American banks operating in the U.S. The holding company for the combined entity will operate under the name Hope Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: HOPE).
Announcing the merger, Kevin S. Kim, president and chief executive officer of Hope Bancorp and Bank of Hope, said:
“We are extremely excited to complete this transformational merger and embark on our new journey as the representative enterprise of the Korean-American banking industry. We believe our new name and flag-like logo instill a sense of pride and optimism for the future. The bars, which form a hidden ‘H,’ symbolize the relationships between Bank of Hope and all of its constituents and exemplify elevated steps and forward progress. The colors of our logo include a mix of blues to personify the strength of our Bank, greens to embody growth, and yellows to symbolize opportunities in Hope. The gradient colors built with blue-green, green and yellow-green are unique to us. We call this expression of color ‘Hope Green.’ Bank of Hope will serve as a cornerstone for Korean-American communities across the United States, and we look forward to introducing our new brand to our customers, communities and shareholders.”
Kim previously served as chairman, president and chief executive officer of BBCN Bancorp and BBCN Bank.
Under the merger agreement, Wilshire Bancorp shareholders will receive 0.7034 shares of Hope Bancorp for each share of Wilshire Bancorp common stock they own. Bank of Hope will continue the activities of its predecessors by specializing in offering commercial banking services to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with an emphasis on commercial real estate, SBA lending and international trade financing.
Bank of Hope will have a footprint that includes 85 full-service branches in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington; SBA loan production offices in Annandale, Atlanta, California, Dallas, Denver, Oregon, Portland, Seattle and Virginia; residential mortgage loan production offices in California; and a representative office in Seoul, Korea.
According to Dr. Steven S. Koh, chairman of the board of Hope Bancorp and Bank of Hope and former chairman of Wilshire Bancorp, Inc.:
“Bank of Hope is an unrivaled organization with the only nationwide platform providing full banking services in all of the top major geographic markets with sizeable Korean-American communities in the United States. Coupled with a comprehensive offering of products and services for our customer base, we are confident that Bank of Hope is well positioned to deliver long-term benefits for all of our stakeholders, including our customers, our employees, our communities and our shareholder base.”
Los Angeles is home to the single largest ethnic Korean community outside of Asia in what is known as K-town, or Koreatown. Wilshire Boulevard, which runs through the center of Koreatown, was the locale of the corporate headquarters of both the former Wilshire Bank and BBCN Bank.
For additional information, please visit www.bankofhope.com
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