Biz Buzz: PG&E hires mayor of Grover Beach

Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals has been hired by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as a senior government relations representative to work on strategic projects, a company spokesman said.

He will work on Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s license extension and will support outreach efforts to municipal governments through the League of California Cities and other organizations.

“I’m really excited to be working with PG&E,” Shoals said. “It’s a company that carries a great reputation in our area and in the state, not only because they deliver energy in an effective and safe manner, but because they make charitable contributions to worthy programs in the community.”

Shoals joins a government relations team that includes Tom Jones, director of governmental relations for the utility, and Patricia Wilmore, former vice president and director of governmental affairs at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

“John is highly regarded throughout California for his mastery of planning issues and knowledge of local government,’’ Jones said. “We are very pleased to have him join our team.”

A Cal Poly alumnus, Shoals had worked for the past four years as a principal planner with RRM Design Group of San Luis Obispo. RRM is an architectural, engineering, planning and survey company. He has also worked as a city planner for local public agencies.

— Julie Lynem

Pacific Capital to sell its tax division

Pacific Capital Bancorp has plans to sell its tax division to a private equity firm, the company announced Thursday.

The Santa Barbara-based company has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with the firm to sell its E-Filing Financial Services Division, which offers refund anticipation loans and refund transfer tax products.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal regulator of nationally chartered banks, notified the company Dec. 18 that it would not receive regulatory approval to originate any refund anticipation loans during 2010.

“Following the review of our capital plan with the OCC, we have determined that the best course of action is for the company to pursue a sale of the tax division,” George Leis, president and CEO of Pacific Capital Bancorp, said in a prepared statement.

The potential buyer of the tax division is working with a number of institutions to replace Pacific Capital Bank, N.A., as the originating bank for the tax products. It also has indicated that it would retain the entire management team of the company’s tax division after the sale.

The move to sell, which is expected to occur before the start of the 2010 tax season in January, is designed to boost the company’s capital ratios. Last month, the company, which has struggled to remain profitable, recorded a $40.7 million quarterly loss.

Pacific Capital (PCBC) shares closed Thursday on the Nasdaq at $1.08. Shares are down 94 percent this year and have traded below $2 since September.

— Tribune staff and wire reports

American Principle has new executive

American Principle Bank has hired a new executive vice president and chief credit officer.

The San Luis Obispo bank welcomed Mark A. Crawford to its team Dec. 21. Crawford has more than 25 years of experience in the finance industry, and he most recently worked as senior executive vice president and chief risk officer for a financial institution in Texas with more than $10 billion in assets. He also has been consulting for the bank pending regulatory approval of his hire as executive officer for American Principle Bank.

Crawford, a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University, also worked earlier in his career for the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

“Mark Crawford brings to the bank many years of experience and education in credit administration, underwriting, loan collection, regulatory compliance, asset review and risk management,’’ said Thomas J. Beene, the bank’s president and chief executive officer. “His background was an excellent fit for the bank’s previously open positions of chief credit officer.”

Crawford said he’s looking forward to moving to the Central Coast with his wife, Terri.

— Julie Lynem

Physician joins Pacific Eye in SLO

Dr. Christopher S. Hulburd is merging his practice with Pacific Eye in San Luis Obispo. The merger will be effective Jan. 1.

The North County physician will see patients in his current Paso Robles office as well as in the Pacific Eye San Luis Obispo location. The ophthalmology practice plans to open a new facility in Paso Robles by mid-2010. At that time, all North County offices will be consolidated into the new location.

Hulburd, a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, has practiced on the Central Coast since 1993 with an emphasis in treating glaucoma, refractive and cataract, as well as general medical ophthalmology.

Pacific Eye has offices in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Pismo Beach, Templeton, Paso Robles and Morro Bay.

— Julie Lynem