Some banks may close on Main Street | October 17, 2008 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - October 17, 2008

Some banks may close on Main Street

Acquisitions, money troubles ending era of downtown banking growth

by Jeb Bing

Critics of the growing number of banks in downtown Pleasanton may have won their argument.

Two banks on Main Street--First Republic and Washington Mutual--have been acquired by other financial institutions as part of the government's effort to strengthen the solvency of large banks through mergers and acquisition. A third bank, Guaranty, that was scheduled to open this fall at the south end of Main Street, has apparently canceled those plans after its stock and vulnerability to outstanding debt caused it to retrench.

The future of First Republic, which took over the operations of the Bank of Walnut Creek a year ago, remains uncertain in the wake of its acquisition by Bank of America, which has a Main Street branch just a few doors to the north, According to a story by Mark Calvey in the San Francisco Business Times, it's widely expected that First Republic's operations will be rolled into Bank of America's.

At this time, First Republic on Main Street continues to operate independently.

Washington Mutual at Main and Division streets also remains open following its purchase by New York-based JPMorgan Chase. Charlie Scharf, head of JPMorgan Chase's Retail Financial Services group, said his company plans to rebrand WaMu branches across the country with the JPMorgan Chase name.

As for layoffs, Scharf told reporters that JPMorgan is taking 60 days to sort through WaMu's organization to determine which employees it will cut and keep, with the goal of telling everyone by Dec. 1 what their future is with JPMorgan, if any.

Also uncertain is WaMu's credit center on the other side of Pleasanton, near Home Depot. Last August, Washington Mutual sold its five-building office complex, but continues to operate there. Washington Mutual earlier had acquired the complex along with its owner, Providian Bancorp., for $6.1 billion. Since then several hundred WaMu employees at the Johnson Drive center have been terminated.

Guaranty Bank, which has leased space at 234 Main St., is regrouping its California operations while riding out the financial storm. It reportedly is seeking to cancel its lease agreement with the Main Street building property owner.


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