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Bank Merger to Eliminate Jobs for 640

Times Staff Writer

California First Bank’s acquisition of Union Bank of Los Angeles will eliminate 640 jobs over two to three years, mostly in Southern California, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based bank said.

The cutbacks, which will equal 8% of the 7,965-member work force of the combined banks, could particularly affect employees in San Diego County, where half of Cal First’s 3,800 employees are. Of Cal First’s 135 branches in California, 50 are in San Diego County, said bank spokesman Larry Boggs.

Most of the cuts will be made through attrition, or by not filling positions as they are vacated naturally in areas where duplication exists between the two organizations. Although insisting that the bank has not decided where and when it will make the job cuts, Boggs said some could begin shortly after the merger deal is completed about Nov. 1.

California First is still studying whether any branches of either bank will be closed after the merger. Boggs said preliminary indications are that a few offices will be closed in cases where Union and California First have branches virtually side by side.

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The two banks’ downtown San Diego branches are across the street from each other.

‘No Wholesale Terminations’

“There will be no wholesale terminations,” Boggs said, adding that he expects only “handfuls” of workers to be actually laid off. “Where jobs are eliminated, the bank will make every effort to place (the displaced worker) internally.”

Boggs said both banks have an annual staff turnover of 20% or higher, which should allow most of the 640 jobs to be cut through attrition.

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California First, which is 77%-owned by Bank of Tokyo, agreed in March to pay $750 million for Union to its British owners, Standard Chartered. The newly merged bank will be called Union Bank. It will have total assets of $15 billion and be the fifth-largest bank in California.

California First, which concentrates on serving individual consumers, has a regional headquarters in San Diego and has based its fiduciary services unit and data-processing center in San Diego.

Union Bank employs 47 in the bank’s two San Diego County offices in downtown San Diego and Carlsbad, spokeswoman Patricia Sisley said. Union Bank specializes in lending to businesses and its 32 offices are concentrated in Southern California.

Since most of the duplication in the banks will be in Southern California, most of the job reductions will be there, Boggs said. He added that head-office administrative posts and data processing jobs are the most likely areas for cutbacks.


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