Biz Buzz: Troubled bank gets support

Pacific Capital Bancorp, parent company of First Bank of San Luis Obispo, says it will soon close a $500 million investment deal with a Texas-based private equity fund.

The transaction with SB Acquisition Company LLC, a subsidiary of Ford Financial Fund, is expected to close on Aug. 31, pending regulatory approval.

As well, Pacific Capital has reached an agreement with the U.S. Treasury Department on the treatment of the preferred stock issued by the company under the Troubled Asset Relief Program — the federal bailout known as TARP.

When the deal closes, Ford Financial Fund would own about 86 percent of the bank, with taxpayers owning about 12 percent and shareholders 2 percent, the company confirmed.

In a company statement, Gerald J. Ford, managing member of the Ford Financial Fund, said the investment would “provide the financial support that will allow the bank to continue serving its customers and actively support its community partners.”

Last week, Ford, a Texas billionaire known for buying distressed banks, and Carl B. Webb, senior principal with the fund wrote in an open letter to The Tribune that both veteran bankers would be joining Pacific Capital Bancorp’s board of directors “actively involved in the day-to-day activities and oversight of the company.”

“We feel most fortunate to have identified an investor who believes, like we do, in the importance of our bank’s rich culture, and deep commitment to its customers and communities,” Edward E. Birch, chairman of the board of Pacific Capital Bancorp, stated in a company announcement.

The significant increase in capital comes at a critical time for the company, which had been under the federal scrutiny.

In May, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — regulator of nationally chartered banks — gave the company until Sept. 8 to submit an acceptable capital plan and achieve minimum capital ratios or face having to sell, merge or liquidate.

Following the capital infusion, the bank’s capital ratios are expected to exceed the ratios that are required to be considered “well capitalized” under federal regulations.

The company recorded a net loss of $61 million for the second quarter of this year, compared with a net loss of $362 million for the same period a year ago.

With $7.5 billion in assets, Pacific Capital Bancorp is the parent company of Pacific Capital Bank, N.A., a nationally chartered bank that operates 48 branches under the names of Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, First National Bank of Central California, South Valley National Bank, San Benito Bank and First Bank of San Luis Obispo.

There are three First Bank of San Luis Obispo branches in the county, the only such branches under that brand. As of May 11, the bank employed 31 people in the county out of 1,068 total employees’ companywide.

The Ford team has indicated it is interested in growing the organization and the bank, according to company spokeswoman Debbie Whiteley. She could not say which locations would see that growth.

— Julie Lynem

McEvoy picked to lead Marian Hospice

Marian Hospice recently hired Tina McEvoy of Arroyo Grande to be its new director of hospice and palliative care services.

McEvoy is responsible for overseeing palliative care at Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, as well as palliative care programs at French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande.

McEvoy has more than 25 years of experience in the hospice and palliative care field. Palliative care focuses on the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illnesses.

She has spent 11 years administrating hospice and palliative care services on the Central Coast, according to a recent announcement. In 2002, she graduated from Harvard Medical School’s program in Palliative Care Education and Practice.

— Julia Hickey