Los Angeles Business Journal

Wilshire Bancorp Makes East Coast Acquisition

By James Rufus Koren Originally published June 10, 2013 at 2:40 p.m., updated June 10, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.

Koreatown’s Wilshire Bancorp Inc. on Monday said it plans to acquire a small Korean-American bank in New Jersey, adding to its East Coast presence.

Wilshire, the parent of Wilshire State Bank, said it will buy BankAsiana of Palisades Park, N.J., for $32.5 million in a deal expected to close by the end of the year. BankAsiana will merge into Wilshire State Bank.

BankAsiana has $207 million in assets, tiny compared to Wilshire’s $2.8 billion. But its three branches – two in New Jersey, one in New York – will add to Wilshire’s existing five branches in the region. It’s not clear if the bank will keep all those branches open, though. Both banks have branches in Palisades Park, and both have branches in the Flushing neighborhood in Queens.

“This transaction will double the size of Wilshire’s New York-New Jersey franchise, further diversifying the loan portfolio and providing greater exposure to fast-growing market segments,” said Jae Whan Yoo, Wilshire’s chief executive.

The New York expansion mirrors recent moves made by Koreatown’s BBCN Bancorp, the nation’s largest Korean-American bank. In the past year, BBCN has announced plans to acquire two banks outside of the Los Angeles region – one in Seattle and one in Chicago – as it looks to enter new markets or expand in existing ones.