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Pacific Capital hires troubled-loan czar

By   /   Wednesday, February 17th, 2010  /   Comments Off on Pacific Capital hires troubled-loan czar

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Santa Barbara-based Pacific Capital Bancorp, the struggling parent of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, has named Paul Alexander to oversee the team that addresses the company’s troubled assets, the source of many of the bank’s capital woes over the past year.

Since last spring, Pacific Capital has been under a voluntary agreement with regulators to boost its capital but has missed its targets. Much of the problem has come from hundreds of millions of dollars in troubled loans, many in its real estate portfolio.

The bank said Alexander will head its team of special asset officers, who are responsible for handling and solving troubled loans, leases and other assets. Alexander worked in senior positions at Comerica Bank and Imperial Bank before joining Pacific Capital, the bank said in a release.

“Paul has more than 30 years of banking experience, focusing on many of the same markets and borrowers as Pacific Capital,” Pacific Capital Chief Executive Officer George Leis said in a release. “His expertise will be valuable in helping the bank effectively manage through this credit cycle.”

On Feb. 1, Pacific Capital announced a $20 million loss in the fourth quarter. Though the loss was small compared with the $400 million in losses the previous two quarters, the bank didn’t make any progress in meeting capital requirements it agreed to with regulators. The bank also elaborated on plans to cut jobs, reduce retiree health benefits and move its headquarters to save money.

Earlier, the bank announced the sale of its most profitable division for $10 million. Analysts called that sum and the expected cost savings a “drop in the bucket” toward coming up with the hundreds of millions of dollars Pacific Capital needs to meet agreements with regulators.

Pacific Capital’s stock closed down 1.7 percent at $1.13 on Feb. 17.

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