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BBCN and Wilshire shareholders approve Koreatown bank merger

Steven Koh, left, chairman of Wilshire Bancorp, and Kevin Kim, BBCN Bancorp's chairman and CEO, shake hands in December.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A combination of the nation’s two largest Korean American banks is set to close July 29 after shareholders of Los Angeles institutions BBCN Bancorp and Wilshire Bancorp approved a merger Thursday.

The deal, announced in December, will create a bank that is by far the country’s largest lender focused on Korean American customers.

The combined bank will have branches in nine states and in every U.S. metropolitan area with a sizable Korean community, including New York, Chicago and Seattle.

With assets of $12.7 billion, it will be about three times the size of its closest rival, fellow Koreatown lender Hanmi Bank, which sought unsuccessfully to block the BBCN-Wilshire deal.

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BBCN will buy Wilshire in an all-stock transaction valued at about $896 million at Thursday’s closing price.

Once the deal closes, the combined bank will rebrand as Bank of Hope, owned by parent company Hope Bancorp.

james.koren@latimes.com

Follow me: @jrkoren

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