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Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Parent Company to Merge with Union Bank in $1.51 Billion Deal

Bank executives say the purchase will be a win-win for customers and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, with rebranding in the works for early next year

UnionBanCal Corporation announced Monday that is purchasing Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s parent company, Pacific Capital Bancorp, for $1.51 billion.

Union Bank, UnionBanCal’s primary subsidiary, has been looking to expand into the Central Coast for some time, Tim Wennes, vice chairman and chief retail banking officer, said at a Monday morning news conference.

“Santa Barbara Bank & Trust is an important strategic fit as it meets our desire to grow our consumer and commercial banking customer base and branch presence in California’s Central Coast,” said Wennes, adding that it will bring 31 more branches to the area. “We also share the same values in how we treat our customers and how we engage in our communities.”

The merger comes less than two years after Texas billionaires Carl Webb and Gerald Ford invested in a $500 million Pacific Capital bailout. While banking regulators still need to approve the deal, it would rebrand the 52-year-old Santa Barbara Bank & Trust establishment, according to Pacific Capital President George Leis.

“When we join forces with Union Bank later this year, our customers will benefit from an exceptional line of product and services that will include the lending power of the second-largest bank holding company in California,” Leis said.

Pacific Capital has $5.9 billion in assets and 47 branches compared with UnionBanCal’s $89.7 billion and 414 branches, 346 of them in California, according to a news release. UnionBanCal will pay $46 dollars per share, a 60 percent premium over its recent $28 price.

“This allows us to extend our community-focused banking services to customers in the vitally important Santa Barbara and Central Coast regions,” Union Bank President and CEO Masashi Oka said in the release.

Leis said Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s rebranding most likely will occur in the first quarter of next year, but it will retain most of the branch-level employees. He added that it’s uncertain how many upper management employees will keep their positions as well as whether downtown Santa Barbara will serve as Union Bank’s regional headquarters.

Pacific Capital earned $70.5 million last year after the Texas moguls bailed out the company in 2010.

“This transaction is confirmation of the significant achievements over the past 18 months of the entire team at Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, an outstanding community bank franchise,” Webb, Pacific Capital CEO, said in the release. 

Wennes said Union Bank is looking to expand its wealth management, private banking and small-business lending.

“The marriage between Union Bank and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust will deliver a better community bank in our market,” Leis said.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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