Integrated Commercial, Real Estate and Private Banking – One Point of Contact
Dec 5, 2007

California Republic Bank Sets Record; Largest Independent Bank Formed in California History, Launches with Initial Capitalization of $52 Million

Press Release_12.05.07_CRBNK Opening Sets Record – PDF version

California Republic Bank (“CRB”) opened Wednesday as the largest independent full-service commercial bank ever formed in the history of California, based on its initial capitalization of $52 million.

The Bank achieved this distinction without the help of any institutional or fund investors. The Bank’s roughly 300 founding investors are comprised of prominent Southern California entrepreneurs, business owners, professionals, and leaders in the real estate and finance industries. The vast majority of these investors had prior relationships with management and its board members, and have also committed to bring their own banking and lending relationships to the bank.

CRB was initially the vision of two successful local Southern California bankers, Jon Wilcox, 46, President & COO and John DeCero, 41, Vice Chairman of the Board. Wilcox and DeCero had significantly helped develop a small bank over several years that was acquired in 2006 by one of the nation’s largest banks. Following a restructure, they left their former company and found themselves looking for a new challenge.

“With both of us starting our careers and holding senior level positions at the big banks, and then experiencing the enjoyment in creating and building a bank that provided great customer service, expert advice and integrated relationship management at a local level, we felt their was a gap in the market, and knew it was time to start a new bank,” said Jon Wilcox. “Thankfully, we received tremendous support and encouragement from the people we knew over the years,” added John DeCero. “The first important step in achieving our dream, however, was to join up with a former colleague, Mark Rebal, Chief Credit Officer. As a Co-Founder, he was an absolute critical factor in getting us from just a concept, to an actual company.” “I knew these guys have always been successful, and with my extensive credit background, combined with their tremendous market influence, I was sure we could create something special,” Mark Rebal said.

The three bankers then met up with prominent Beverly Hills based real estate investor, Robert Barth, CEO of Black Equities, who had been a Bank of America customer during Jon Wilcox’s tenure in the 1990′s. “I had a strong interest in starting a bank, but more importantly, I was looking for a strong management team,” Barth said. “This was a great fit, and the fact that management was willing to invest substantial start up capital and equity in the bank, gave me real evidence that they were committed to make this project a true success.” Shortly thereafter the group searched for a strong CEO who had “hands on” experience at starting a De Novo bank. The group found Robert Bulseco, a banker with 34 years of experience and former President of Metrobank, and founder and President of Primebank, and convinced him to leave retirement and serve as the Bank’s CEO.

“I was re-energized,” said Bulseco, “by the prospect of joining this management team and this board because of their depth of resources and strong commitment to building a quality institution with close, long term relationships. This is not just another ‘build it and sell it strategy.’ We want to build an institution that will have a lasting impression on the customers and the communities that we serve.”

California Republic Bank will focus on businesses, their owners, investors, and high net worth individuals and families. These are clients that are looking for direct access to decision makers, and require immediate, intelligent responses to their banking requests, as well as assurances that the Bank will deliver what they promise, when they promise it. “We will be successful if we are laser focused on the customer and their specific requests,” said DeCero. “We will add value and distinguish ourselves with innovative solutions, individually tailored to each customer’s unique situation,” Wilcox added. “That is why we created this bank, and for each customer we succeed in doing this, they will then feel confident in referring others. That is what we must do in order to grow our business,” Bulseco reiterated. “We want to be our customer’s partner, helping them execute their business plans, goals, and dreams.”

California Republic Bank will initially serve the Southern California marketplace from its Newport Beach location. The Bank also has plans to open a West Los Angeles office by the first quarter of 2008. The Bank feels that it can successfully service its marketplace from those two locations due in part to its “state of the art” internet banking system, its large network of couriers, (including those that can carry cash), its “no charge” ATM cards, and its remote capture capabilities, (which will allow business customers to deposit checks at their own office), all combined into a completely new and unique delivery package that they have created and coined as their “Branch in a Box.”

The Bank’s Board of Directors is comprised of members from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. They are a “who’s who” in their respective fields, and have made a strong commitment to CRB, as evidenced by their unusually large equity contributions for a De Novo bank. “Our outside board members are well known leaders in their communities and will be vital in the future growth and success of our company,” Wilcox said. Robert Barth will serve as the Bank’s Chairman of the Board, with eight other directors, including: Patrick Allen, former President and COO of Roth Capital Partners, a boutique investment bank in Newport Beach, and former Managing Director/Head of Equities at Chase Hambrecht and Quist in San Francisco; John Bendheim, President of Bendheim Homes and Bendheim Enterprises, Inc., was also past Chairman of Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors and is the current Chairman of the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission; Alexander Cappello, Chairman and CEO of Cappello Group, LLC/Cappello Capital Group, a global merchant banking firm which has completed transactions in 40 countries in excess of $50 billion. Mr. Cappello also serves on numerous boards and is the former Chairman of the International Board of The Young Presidents Organization (YPO), a USC Trustee, and President of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors; John Hagestad, a Managing Partner of SARES-REGIS Group, a West Coast diversified real estate development company with over 21 million square feet of commercial property and 15,000 apartment units under management and development. Mr. Hagestad is also a CPA; J. Scott Watt, President/CEO of the Watt Group of Companies, a diversified real estate development and building company, and former controlling partner of John Laing Homes, which, in 2005, had over $1.1 billion in revenue. Inside board members include Robert Bulseco, CEO; John DeCero, Vice Chairman of the Board; and Jon Wilcox, President & COO.

California Republic Bank will provide credit products, including term loans, bridge loans, revolving lines of credit (both secured and unsecured), and a full suite of deposit and cash management services.

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