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Bank mergers, euro crisis shape market in 2012

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In finance, local bank mergers and acquisitions kicked off in 2012. The Federal Reserve extended Operation Twist in June to further lower long-term interest rates through the end of the year. And stocks have been fluctuating based on reports from Greece and Spain.

Security Business Bank merges with AmericanWest Bank

San Diego-based Security Business Bank expects to become part of AmericanWest Bank of Spokane, Wash., by the third quarter of 2012. Security Business Bank has locations in downtown San Diego, Carmel Valley, Carlsbad and Escondido.

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Grandpoint Capital merges with Regents Bank, acquires California Community Bank

La Jolla-based Regents Bancshares and its subsidiary, Regents Bank, and Escondido-based California Community Bank (OTC: CABK), merged with Grandpoint Capital Inc., a Los Angeles-based bank holding company. The merger with Regents Bancshares was completed in January and the acquisition of California Community Bank is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2012. Regents Bank appointed Steven D. Sefton as president of the bank. Dan C. Yates remains chief executive officer of the bank as well as president of Grandpoint Capital Inc., the parent company of Regents Bank.

Grandpoint Capital also entered into an agreement to acquire Bank Capital Corp. of Arizona.

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SunTrust Banks Inc. acquires FirstAgain LLC

San Diego-based online lender FirstAgain LLC was acquired in January by SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) of Atlanta. The management team at FirstAgain is expected to remain, and the companies anticipate the transaction to be completed in the second quarter of 2012.

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Aero Financial acquires 65% ownership interest in Sycamore Ventures

San Diego-based Aero Financial, a private equity and consulting company, signed a definitive agreement in February to acquire a 65 percent ownership interest in Sycamore Ventures Inc., (PNK: SYVN), a holding company incubator that focuses on the acquisition and development of health, nutrition and education companies.

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Silvergate Bank relocates La Mesa branch, opens Carlsbad branch

Silvergate Bank, a San Diego-based bank specializing in serving small businesses, moved its La Mesa branch to a 3,420-square-foot location at 8530 La Mesa Blvd., Suite 300, just west of Jackson Drive in May.The company also opened a full-service branch in Carlsbad in May located at 5810 Camino Real at the corner of Faraday Avenue, the bank's fifth full-service location.

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BofI Holding added to Nasdaq OMX ABA Community Bank Index

San Diego-based BofI Holding Inc. (Nasdaq: BOFI), parent company of BofI Federal Bank, was added to the Nasdaq OMX ABA Community Bank Index (Nasdaq: ABQI) in June, a stock index for community banks designed to track performance.

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SDCCU names Micale CFO

Ashley Micale was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) in June. She has direct responsibility for accounting, finance, forecasting, strategic planning and treasury functions, according to Teresa Halleck, SDCCU president and CEO.

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LPL Financial names new CFO

San Diego-based LPL Financial named Dan Arnold as chief financial officer in June. Arnold succeeds Robert Moore, who was named chief operating officer in May. Arnold will have oversight of LPL’s internal audit and strategic planning functions as well as his financial duties.

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Dias named senior VP at US Trust

Steven R. Dias was named senior vice president, private client adviser in May at U.S. Trust in San Diego. Dias will act as the client team lead, with primary responsibilities for new client acquisition and business development. He will also manage client team members and partner with other internal specialists to provide clients access to U.S. Trust capabilities and services.

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Torrey Pines Bank names John Harvey senior VP

Torrey Pines Bank named John Harvey as senior vice president and regional manager for the San Diego market in February. Harvey will focus on expanding the bank’s presence in the inland North County area.

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Fed extends Operation Twist

The Federal Reserve extended Operation Twist through the end of the year. The program is intended to lower long-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending by selling short-term debt and buying longer-term bonds. The Fed has been selling $400 billion in short-term Treasurys since September and says it will shift another $267 billion through December. Fed officials also plan to keep short-term rates at record lows until at least late 2014.

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Euro crisis threatens global economy

The global economy continues to be threatened by the euro crisis and a loss of confidence, and stock markets have been fluctuating based on news from Greece and Spain. June election results in Greece showed narrow voter support for austerity programs. Rising unemployment and declining real estate values have created fiscal problems in Spain, where there is concern about its rising cost of debt.

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JPMorgan Chase loses $2 billion

JPMorgan Chase announced in May that it lost $2 billion in six weeks in a trading portfolio designed to hedge against risks the company takes with its own money.

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