Community groups oppose L.A. bank merger over low-income lending concerns

More than a dozen advocacy groups are trying to block the merger of two L.A.-area banks, saying the deal would not benefit low-income and minority communities and that one of the banks does a poor job of lending in some rural California counties.

The California Reinvestment Coalition and other groups on Friday sent a letter to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., saying that the acquisition of downtown L.A.’s California United Bank by Beverly Hills-based Pacific Western Bank should be approved only if the terms are changed.

“If [Pacific Western] is unwilling to make further commitments to communities, we believe the regulators should, in addition to holding public meetings, also reject this merger,” the letter stated.

Pacific Western in April announced plans to buy California United for $705 million in cash and stock. Bank officials said at the time that they expected the deal to close by the end of the year, though opposition from fair-lending groups could delay the transaction.

Executives at the bank did not respond to a request for comment.