One of the financial institutions that bid on the failed Sonoma Valley Bank will soon open its own branch in Sonoma. Rabobank N.A plans to be open for business at 10 Maple Street before the end of the year.
Cathleen Gorham has been named branch manager, according to Andy Frokjer, the company’s director of communications. She had served as chief operating officer at Sonoma Valley Bank.
“The aim is to hire locally,” he said. “We’re looking for people who know the community, and the community knows them.”
The branch, between Broadway and First St. W., will be the firm’s first in Sonoma County.
“Rabobank has wanted to expand our presence in the Wine Country for some time,” said CEO Ronald Blok in a statement.
Rabobank N.A. is a California-based subsidiary of the Netherlands bank. It has 120 braches statewide, primarily in rural areas with a strong agricultural base.
“Our community banking and agricultural heritage are a perfect fit for Sonoma,” Blok said.
With its May acquisition of the Napa Community Bank, the Rabobank Group has a lending portfolio of more than $500 million, primarily to wineries and others in the food and agribusiness industry, he said.
In August, the bank bid to the FDIC on three failed banks. While it did not acquire Sonoma Valley Bank (now Westamerica), it was successful in obtaining nine branches of the former Pacific State Bank, based in Stockton, and 14 branches of the former Butte Community Bank, based in Chico.
The bank is also slated to open two new branches in Bakersfield and one each in Visalia and Tulare later this year.
“Our long-term strategy is to grow our branch network in California,” Said Blok. “Because of our financial strength, we are able to do so even during these challenging economic times.”
Rabobank, N.A. has assets of more than $11 billion and had a capital ratio of 16.20 percent as of June 30, 2010. Federal regulators consider banks well capitalized when the ratio is 10 percent or greater.
“We are proud to say that we are well capitalized and can meet the lending needs of our customers without government assistance,” said Blok. “Our reputation as a safe, sound and secure bank is built on conservative policies and prudent decision-making.”
Frokjer said the bank supports the activities of local non-profit and civic organizations through donations and sponsorships.