Korean-American Bank Hanmi’s Talks With Rivals Said to Stall

Hanmi Financial Corp. (HAFC)’s talks with rivals about a possible sale have stalled because of disagreements over price and management, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Hanmi, the second-largest U.S. bank that caters to Korean- Americans, had attracted interest from Wilshire Bancorp Inc. (WIBC) and BBCN Bancorp Inc. (BBCN), said the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Wilshire and BBCN are both based in Los Angeles, as is Hanmi, and target Korean-American customers.

Discussions between Hanmi and both banks broke down because they couldn’t agree on how much Hanmi is worth and who would run the bank, said one of the people. In addition, some Hanmi board members are reluctant to sell, the person said.

Hanmi’s shares have risen more than 9 percent since Jan. 9, when Bloomberg News reported that the bank had hired DelMorgan & Co. to advise on a possible sale. The stock increased less than 1 percent yesterday to $16.69 at the close in New York, for a market value of about $526 million.

Jason Booth, a spokesman for Hanmi at Sitrick and Co., and Angie Yang, a spokeswoman for BBCN, declined to comment. Rob Delgado, co-founder and chairman of DelMorgan, and Alex Ko, Wilshire’s chief financial officer, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Hanmi is still working with DelMorgan to explore options, such as buying other banks, remaining independent or considering offers from other suitors, including revised offers from Wilshire or BBCN, one person said.

Hanmi had about $2.9 billion in assets and 27 branches at the end of last year. BBCN, with $5.8 billion in assets, is the largest Korean-American-focused bank, according to SNL Financial, a bank-research firm in Charlottesville, Virginia. Wilshire is the third-largest with assets of $2.8 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Monks in New York at mmonks1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeffrey McCracken at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.