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Investment company deal will create bank with 22 Nevada branches

A New York company led by former casino analyst Jason Ader has agreed to buy the Nevada deposits and some assets of Colonial Bank of Montgomery, Ala., and North Las Vegas-based 1st Commerce Bank, the investment company announced Tuesday.

Global Consumer Acquisition Corp. intends to merge Colonial Bank’s Nevada operations with 1st Commerce and operate under the North Las Vegas bank’s state charter and name.

Global Consumer will change its name to Western Liberty Bancorp and become a bank holding company with $833 million in total assets.

The combined banks will become a subsidiary with $500 million in assets, and 22 branches in Southern and Northern Nevada with 225 employees.

"It’s kind of a fresh start for two banks," said Mark Daigle, chief executive of Colonial Bank’s operations in Nevada since 2001.

He will continue in that position at 1st Commerce and will serve on the company’s board.

The transaction will create an institution with excess capital that can be used to bid on the deposits and assets of failed institutions.

Western Liberty Bancorp "plans to be a very active partner in government-assisted deals involving other depository institutions," Ader, future chairman and CEO of the holding company, said in a statement.

The company also intends to grow internally and through acquisitions of other banks.

"Few of our competitors have the capital and the team required to execute on our business plan in today’s economic environment," said Ader, a former analyst with Bear, Stearns & Co. who covered Las Vegas casino operators for several years.

Bankers said Nevada will benefit from the merger, even though it will create a strong competitor for them.

"Any vehicle that is able to bring more capital into the financial services industry is going to continue to improve liquidity and credit availability for the Nevada market," said Dale Gibbons, chief financial officer of Western Alliance Bancorportion, the holding company for Bank of Nevada.

The Colonial/1st Commerce transaction is "going to have a beneficial impact on the economy. It’s going to make it a little harder" for other banks to compete, said Arvind Menon, chief executive officer of Meadows Bank.

"We intend to be an active lender in the market," Daigle said, noting that some banks have been reluctant to make new loans in recent years.

Regulators are expected to favor the deal, because it creates a strong bank.

The bank holding company will have $255.7 million in tangible book value and a 32 percent capital ratio, one of the highest in Nevada.

Capitol Bancorp of Lansing, Mich., which owns four other community banks in Southern Nevada, agreed to sell 1st Commerce for $8.25 million.

Colonial Bancgroup, a Montgomery, Ala.-based regional bank holding company that has been struggling, is selling 21 branches in Nevada. It will receive a $28 million deposit premium, subject to adjustments for changes in deposits.

The new 1st Commerce will have $477 million in loans and $557 million in deposits.

Global Consumer will select which loans it will acquire from Colonial and will turn over unwanted loans to Colonial.

Daniel Silvers will be president of Western Liberty, and Laus Abdo will be chief operating officer.

 

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0420.

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