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OC Insider: Banks and Blockbusters

The blockbuster announcement late last month that Santa Ana-based Banc of California (NYSE: BANC) would acquire Beverly Hills-based PacWest (Nasdaq: PACW) for $1.1 billion will result in one less bank based in Orange County; the combined company will be headquartered in LA, officials said.

No word on whether Banc of California’s South Coast Metro HQ, which it purchased in 2015 for $76.4 million, will hit the market after the deal is completed; the bank leases out a portion of the 10-story tower to other tenants, according to real estate market tracker CoStar Group Inc.

The deal is a result of two CEOs who know each other well from their work in Orange County.

Jared Wolff, who took over Banc of California in 2019, met PacWest CEO Paul Taylor when he led Irvine-based Opus Bank from 2019 to 2020 until it was sold to Pacific Premier Bancorp (Nasdaq: PPBI), also in Irvine, for $744 million.

Pacific Premier is the largest bank based in OC, with some $20.8 billion in assets; Banc of California had been No. 2, with $9.4 billion in assets.

Wolff “took over Banc a few months before I took over Opus Bank so we’ve known each other for many years,” Taylor told analysts on a conference call to discuss the acquisition.

“Having turned around a few banks myself, I’ve been impressed with the transformation he has led at that institution in a short period of time.

“With that backdrop, it makes me excited about what’s to come with this combination. It’s a great deal.”

Hollywood Hits, Part 1: Add another accolade for Wylie Aitken, founder and managing partner of Santa Ana-based plaintiffs’ firm, Aitken Aitken Cohn, whose HQ is at the Banc of California tower.

Aitken is one of the newest members of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Board of Trustees.

His “expertise and passion for the arts, combined with his legal acumen,” were reasons for his inclusion, according to a statement announcing his inclusion.

Aitkin is the first trial lawyer to sit on the AFI board of trustees; the group’s founding trustees included Chairman Gregory Peck, Vice Chairman Sidney Poitier, Francis Ford Coppola and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

Hollywood Hits, Part 2: Palmer Luckey isn’t enamored with a key tech element of the Writers Guild of America’s position in its current strike. The Guild said it would allow for the use of AI in story writing only if it was a tool for them to use in their own work, otherwise they oppose its use by Hollywood studios.

“No sane studio could possibly agree” with the Guild’s demands, says the founder of Costa Mesa’s Anduril Industries, whose defense technology leans heavily on AI.

Such a move would be signing their own death warrant, as other studios using AI would “crank out better work at a much lower cost,” he said on a recent Facebook post.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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