BANKING / FINANCE : Top Executives to Get Generous Severance After Banks Are Sold

Compiled by James S. Granelli; Times staff writer

Top executives at Citizens Bank of Costa Mesa and El Camino Bank in Anaheim may find themselves out of work Jan. 1 when Wells Fargo Bank completes its purchase of the banks. But they should be getting a generous financial cushion to land on while they search for jobs.

The executives will receive severance pay from the banks’ parent company, Citizens Holdings in Anaheim, equal to their salaries for six months to more than a year, said Stanley Pawlowski, El Camino’s chairman.

Citizens Holdings, owned by a family trust for Australian industrialist Richard Pratt, should be flush with cash. The sale price is a minimum $48 million and could go up $2.5 million more based on this year’s earnings.

Pawlowski estimates that little more than half of the 200 employees will end up as permanent Wells Fargo employees. Wells Fargo has not said how many employees it will keep or how many of the six Orange County branches it is acquiring will remain open. The branches will continue to operate as Citizens Bank and El Camino Bank until the weekend of March 2-3, when the operations will be merged into Wells Fargo.


Pawlowski and Paige V. Simpson, chairman of Citizens Bank, will stay on for three months to help with the transition. Pawlowski, 61, already has a job lined up. Simpson, 71, is expected to retire.

Last month, Robert Ucciferri, president of Citizens Bank, took over as president of the Bank of Yorba Linda. He replaced C. Ellis Porter, who joined the Brea office of Los Angeles-based Mid-City Bank as a regional officer.