Hanmi Financial Drops After Sale Process Said to Stall

Hanmi Financial Corp. shares fell the most in more than a year after the lender’s talks with rivals about a sale were said to have stalled because of disagreements over price and management.

The shares dropped 6.3 percent to $15.64 at the close in New York, the most since November 2011. Hanmi, which caters to Korean-Americans, had drawn interest from Wilshire Bancorp Inc. and BBCN Bancorp Inc., said people familiar with the matter, 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.

Before today, Hanmi’s shares had risen more than 9 percent since Jan. 9, when Bloomberg News reported that the bank had chosen DelMorgan & Co. to advise on a possible sale.

Jason Booth, a spokesman for Hanmi at Sitrick and Co., and Angie Yang, a spokeswoman for BBCN, declined to comment last week. 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.

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