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Today, UnionBanCal Corporation, the holding company of Union Bank, N.A., has $97 billion in assets. Its foundation is built on five lineages; three originate in California and two in Japan.
In California, the bank’s roots are woven into the fabric of the state’s emerging centers of commerce: in San Francisco, The Bank of California, founded in 1864; in San Diego, First National Bank of San Diego, formed in 1883; and in Los Angeles, Kaspare Cohn Commercial and Savings Bank, established in 1914.
Each institution helped fund projects that contributed to the state’s early development. Over time the banks evolved, and in some cases changed their names. Kaspare Cohn’s bank was renamed Union Bank & Trust Co. of Los Angeles, and later shortened to Union Bank; First National Bank ultimately adopted the name Southern California First National as it reached beyond San Diego.
In Japan, Tsukumo Shokai, formed in 1870, and the Yokohama Specie Bank, founded in 1880, helped usher in a new era of modernization and foreign trade, and eventually bridged the Pacific to establish an influential presence in California. Yokohama Specie Bank opened an office in San Francisco in 1886. After World War II, it became The Bank of Tokyo, Ltd., and formed The Bank of Tokyo of California in 1952. Tsukumo Shokai was renamed Mitsubishi Shokai in 1873, and in 1972 it opened the first Mitsubishi Bank of California office in Los Angeles.
In 1975, The Bank of Tokyo of California acquired Southern California First National Bank. The merger created California First Bank. In 1979, another California predecessor was acquired when an international bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Ltd. of London, purchased Union BanCorp, Inc., the parent of Union Bank, and retained the Union Bank name.
In 1984, The Mitsubishi Bank, Ltd., acquired The Bank of California. Four years later, in 1988, Mitsubishi merged The Bank of California and The Mitsubishi Bank of California, which retained The Bank of California name. The same year, California First Bank acquired Union Bank when Standard Chartered suffered overseas financial losses.
The modern Union Bank was formed in 1996 when The Bank of California and Union Bank combined to create Union Bank of California as part of the merger of The Mitsubishi Bank, Ltd., and The Bank of Tokyo, Ltd., which created the world’s largest bank, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd. In 2008, Union Bank of California shortened its name to Union Bank, signaling both its strategic plan to expand its national brand recognition, and a new era in its banking history.
In 2010, Union Bank acquired San Rafael, California-based Tamalpais Bank and Everett, Washington-based Frontier Bank. Through purchase and assumption agreements with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Union Bank added 57 additional banking offices. In 2012, Union Bank acquired Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, which for 52 years was a highly regarded banking institution in the Central Coast. Union Bank added 38 branches after the legal closing in December 2012. The acquisition strengthens Union Bank’s ability to serve customers in community banking, consumer, commercial and small business lending, and wealth management.