published on April 25, 2017 - 10:32 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Central Valley banks continue to extend their footprint to the coast, with Bank of the Sierra the latest institution in acquisition mode.

The Porterville-based bank’s parent company, Sierra Bancorp, announced Tuesday an agreement to acquire OCB Bancorp of Ventura County, parent company of Ojai Community Bank and three other banks in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Santa Paula.

The stock-for-stock transaction is valued at about $35.7 million, or $14 per share of OCB Bancorp stock, which is traded over the counter under the ticker symbol OJCB.

At the end of 2016, OCB Bancorp had total assets of $256.6 million, total loans of $209.2 million and total deposits of $208.4 million.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, prior to closing conditions, regulatory approval and OJCB shareholder approval.

Bank of the Sierra President and CEO Kevin McPhaill said in a statement, “We are excited about today’s announcement of Ojai Community Bank joining forces with us and welcome all Ojai employees, customers and shareholders into the Bank of Sierra family. Enhancing our presence on the Central Coast fits in with our long term strategic plan. Adding branches in Ventura, Ojai and Santa Barbara increases our commitment to serving those communities. We have been impressed by Ojai’s strong commitment to its communities, disciplined growth strategies, and success, and look forward to growing this part of our bank together.”

David Brubaker, president and CEO of OCB Bancorp and Ojai Community Bank stated, “We are very pleased to be joining with Bank of the Sierra and believe this is an excellent opportunity for our shareholders, customers and employees to realize enhanced value by being part of a larger financial institution with considerably deeper resources, operational scale and a steady stream of core earnings. I really feel that our cultures match very well and our focus on helping the customer, which is unique to community banking, is core to their strategy. Our customers will benefit with access to many more products and services, together with significantly increased lending capacity, enabling us to meet more of the needs of our customers and our community”  

Bank of the Sierra also recently announced first quarter earnings of $4.55 million, up 13 percent over the same quarter of 2016.

Total assets declined by $33 million, or 2 percent, during the first quarter to $2 billion.

The drop in assets resulted primarily from lower utilization on mortgage warehouse lines and a declining level of non-earning cash and balances due from banks, partially offset by strong organic growth in real estate loans and agricultural production loans and an increase in investment securities, according to a news release.

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