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Union Bank Gets OK to Acquire Santa Barbara Bank & Trust

Federal regulators cleared the way this week for Union Bank to acquire Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s parent company before the end of the year.

Union Bank, the primary subsidiary of San Francisco-based UnionBanCal Corp., received approval from the Federal Reserve board and the Office of the Controller of the Currency to purchase the parent company, Pacific Capital Bancorp, for $1.5 billion.

The approval was the final regulatory hurdle for the sale, according to Union Bank spokesman Dan Weidman.

As part of the sale, regulators also approved a merger between the two parent companies.

“Receiving final regulatory approval is an important milestone for Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and Union Bank, as we can now accelerate the process of integrating the two banks while providing superior service to customers,” Weidman told Noozhawk on Thursday.

UnionBanCal anticipates a legal closing date of Dec. 1 for the transaction, which was first announced on March 12.

By acquiring Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s parent company, Union Bank gains 45 branches, significantly expanding its geographic footprint to important areas of the Central Coast.

Union Bank will become the leading bank in the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), fourth in the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks MSA, and fifth in the Salinas-Carmel MSA, according to a Union Bank release.

Customers can expect all banks to boast the Union Bank brand name in spring of 2013, Weidman said.

He couldn’t speak to which Santa Barbara Bank & Trust employees will keep their jobs in the merger. Santa Barbara Bank & Trust representatives could not be reached for comment.

“When two banks merge and combine their operations, there is almost always duplication of employee positions,” Weidman said. “Decisions regarding employees will be made very carefully and in consultation with Santa Barbara Bank & Trust management. However, at this time it would be premature to talk about employment status.”

The acquisition, which includes $3.7 billion in loans held for investment and $4.7 billion in deposits at Sept. 30, will strengthen Union Bank’s ability to serve customers through greater scale and distribution in community banking, consumer, commercial and small business lending, and wealth management, according to the release.

After the merger is completed, Pacific Capital Bancorp public stockholders of record will receive a letter of transmittal with detailed instructions for exchanging their stock certificates for the per-share merger consideration.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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