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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024
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OC Banks Shares Fall after Regional Bank Failures

First Foundation, PPBI, Banc of California continue decline

Banks with significant Orange County operations got entangled in Wall Street’s fears about the sector after three regional banks failed in recent days.

First Foundation Inc. (Nasdaq: FFWM), which has major operations in Irvine, was the worst hit with a 34% drop today to $7.67 and a $431 million market cap.

Its shares are now down 45% since March 8 when SVB Financial, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, announced it was trying to raise capital because of declining deposits. Volume at First Foundation today was 2.4 million shares, about six times its daily average for the past three months.

Last night, First Foundation, which moved its headquarters to Dallas two years ago, issued a press release “to reaffirm” its strength.

“First Foundation Bank has a diversified mix of deposits that has limited-to-no direct exposure to venture capital-backed deposits,” it said, noting its deposits have risen to $10.9 billion as of March 10, a $600 million increase since Dec. 31.

First Foundation added that it “has no direct exposure to Silicon Valley Bank or Silvergate Bank.”

Silvergate Capital Corp., a crypto-focused bank, last week said it would voluntarily shut down. Regulators yesterday seized Signature Bank, a New York lender with $110 billion in assets.

President Joe Biden today tried to reassure depositors with more than $250,000 in their accounts – including many businesses — that they would recoup their deposits at these banks.

Still, Irvine-based Pacific Premier Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: PPBI), the largest bank headquartered in Orange County, fell 6.1% to $26.01 and a $2.5 billion market cap.  Santa Ana-based Banc of California Inc., the second largest (NYSE: BANC), dropped 10% to $13.56 and an $800 million market cap. Those two banks have fallen 15% and 19% respectively since March 8. Volume at these two banks was twice the daily average.

Garden Grove-based US Metro Bancorp, which caters to Korean Americans, fell 5.6% to $3.90 and a $63.8 million market cap.

Shares at thinly-traded Irvine-based CW Bancorp., the parent of CommerceWest, were unchanged at $33.50 and a $112 million market cap. Its volume today was 900, about half of its daily average.

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Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan has been a journalist for 40 years. He spent a decade in Latin America covering wars, narcotic traffickers, earthquakes, and business. His resume includes 15 years at Bloomberg News where his headlines and articles sometimes moved the market caps of companies he covered by hundreds of millions of dollars. His articles have been published worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post; he's appeared on CNN, CBC, BBC, and Bloomberg TV. He was awarded a Kiplinger Fellowship at The Ohio State University.
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