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Citizens Bank Takeover Before Regulators

The $12 million takeover of Citizens Bank of Costa Mesa by wealthy Australian industrialist Richard Pratt should be completed sometime in January, as long as state and federal regulators give their approval, bank and Pratt spokesmen said Wednesday.

The state Department of Banking has to approve Pratt’s application to buy the bank for $11 a share, and the Federal Reserve Board has to approve Pratt’s plan to set up a holding company, Citizens Holdings, that would own all the stock of the 13-year-old bank.

Approval from both agencies routinely takes 60 days or more, said Citizens President Paige Simpson and Pratt’s lawyer and banking consultant, Gary Findley of Brea.

Pratt has told state regulators he will keep all the directors, officers and employees in place, but will expand the board to add three of his own directors. Those new directors also will sit on the board of Citizens Holdings, along with Simpson as chairman.

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The offer involves a complex ownership scheme in which Citizens Holdings will be owned by Pratt corporations or partnerships in California, United Kingdom, Netherland Antilles, Netherland and Australia----all for tax purposes, they said. The ultimate owner of those corporations and partnerships is a trust Pratt established for his children.


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