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$10.75 Million : Sunwest Bank Is Acquired by Centennial

Times Staff Writer

Centennial Beneficial Corp. of Orange completed its acquisition of Sunwest Bank of Tustin for $10.75 million, boosting its assets to more than $200 million.

The final deal, signed Tuesday, gives the multibank holding company Sunwest’s five branches that include 161 employees and more than $150 million in assets.

Formed in 1981, expansion-minded Centennial also owns Sacramento First National Bank, Heritage Thrift and Loan Assn. in Brea and Centennial Beneficial Mortgage Co. in Orange.

“We believe there is a lot of potential with Sunwest,” said David Chesire, Centennial’s chief financial officer. Chesire said Centennial plans to expand the bank’s lines of business, including developing its data process department, expanding its construction lending and possibly opening a new branch, although he declined to say where.

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As far as Sunwest employees are concerned, Chesire said, “Everybody is staying in place. Sunwest has a good core group of people, who we’re confident will move the bank ahead.”

The initial purchase agreement, which was announced in February, 1984, called for Centennial to pay $16 million for Sunwest. But the price was slashed to $10.75 million last March to account for anticipated losses of "$1 million or more” for 1984, Sunwest President John Harney said in an interview earlier this year.

Sunwest, which had posted the biggest profit in 1983 among Orange County’s 46 independent banks, suffered a net loss of $3 million for 1984, Chesire said.

Sunwest officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

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