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Union Bank California - Union Bank California grows into one of the state's largest banks

checking savings million company

From humble beginnings a century ago as an outgrowth of an immigrant’s clothing business, Union Bank California has grown into one of the state’s largest banks.

A full-service commercial bank, Union Bank California serves consumers and businesses of all sizes and the bank provides services in the areas of real estate, corporate, financial management, trust, private banking and insurance. Commercial clients include companies who do business in communications, energy, entertainment, media, public utilities and retail.

With assets of $85 billion and more than 10,000 employees, Union Bank, N.A., has 396 banking offices in California, Oregon, Washington and Texas as well as two international offices. In 1990, Union Bank was the first large California bank to operate a supermarket branch seven days a week.

While other banks continue to struggle out of the recession, Union Bank California’s capital strength improved this year and it recently acquired two other banks. The company’s net income for the second quarter of 2010 was $154 million, up from a net loss of $80 million during the same period last year. Its provision for credit losses was $45 million, down from $375 million during the second quarter of 2009.

In April, the bank acquired the assets of the 50-branch Frontier Bank of Everett, Wash., in a purchase agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The same month, Union Bank also acquired the seven-branch Tamalpais Bank of Marin County from federal regulators. The two acquisitions meant expansion of Union Bank’s presence in the Pacific Northwest and northern California.

Union Bank California got its start when German immigrant Kaspare Cohn founded Kaspare Cohn Commercial & Savings Bank in the early 1900s to supplement his Los Angeles clothing business. The bank became Union Bank & Trust Co. in 1918.

The bank’s name later was shortened to Union Bank. A holding company called Union Bancorp was set up in 1967 and the company was acquired in 1979 by Standard Chartered Bank of London.

Today, the bank operates under UnionBanCal Corp., a holding company based in San Francisco and a subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo, which operates under Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. When the Japanese holding company bought Union Bank in 2008, Union Bank’s corporate directors resisted the foreign company’s first offer, which persuaded Mitsubishi to raise the buyout offer by 27 percent to $73.50 a share.

Union Bank California offers a variety of checking, savings and investment options. Free checking is available with a $100 deposit and no minimum balance. Tiered Interest Checking allows customers to earn interest on their accounts and requires a minimum balance of at least $2,500 to avoid fees. Signature Banking, which requires a $10,000 monthly balance, is the top of the line checking account with the most benefits.

The bank also offers 55 Plus Checking for senior citizens and Teen Access Checking, which includes a debit card with daily limits.

Union Bank California offers an array of savings accounts including: Preferred Savings, where higher balances earn higher interest rates; Regular Savings, which avoids service fees with a deposit of at least $25 a month; and the High Rate Money Market Account. The bank also offers savings accounts for children and teen-agers and complete online services at its web site: www.unionbank.com.

The bank has made a 10-year commitment to pledge 2 percent of its profits to charity, which amounted to $11 million in 2009. .Union Bank also targets some business loans to businesses owned by women and minorities.

To help spur the real estate market, the bank recently offered home loans with no appraisal fee up to a $500 value.

The bank marked the centennial of its historic San Francisco Banking Hall in 2008. The hall, designated a San Francisco landmark, was the first commercial structure rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake.

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