Irvine-based Opus Bank has established a broker-dealer subsidiary to support its merchant banking business.

The unit, called Opus Financial Partners LLC, is expected to help clients with financial and advisory services in connection with debt and equity financing, raising capital, targeted acquisitions and other strategies.

Opus Financial Partners will be headed by Dale Cheney, senior managing director and head of the merchant bank. Cheney joined Opus about a year ago after a 13-year career in private equity and investment banking, including stints at Citicorp Venture Capital and Goldman Sachs in New York.

Opus is one of the largest banks with headquarters in Orange County, with about $5.1 billion in assets.