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DALLAS-After four years of testing the Dallas waters with a loan office, a California bank is looking for retail locations in North Texas to open its first full-service branches outside its native state.

Brian E. Cho, senior vice president and CFO for Wilshire State Bank, tells GlobeSt.com that “we are equipped very well to compete with any bank in Dallas.” He and other executives for the Los Angeles-based institution have been searching for locations primarily on the Dallas side of the metroplex.

The bank’s loan office is located at 12300 Ford Rd., but the plan is to get a full-service location with an existing drive-through or the capability to add one, he says. Cho won’t say where, but did say a few shopping center sites have surfaced in the executives’ search, but nothing is firm at this point. This year will bring one branch and next year the plan is to add several, either through acquisition of a banking institution or rolling out its own locations, according to Cho. The final count, he says, “depends on our success.”

Wilshire State Bank has its headquarters and main banking office at 3200 Wilshire, with 10 branches in LA, Koreatown, San Fernando Valley, Cerritos, Gardena, Rowland Heights, Garden Grove and Huntington Park. In addition to Dallas, loan production offices are located in San Jose and Seattle. The bank, founded in 1980, reported Q2 net income of $3.3 million or a 52% rise in the past year while the midyear number shows $6 million or a 49% increase over 2002′s net. Its target market is small business. The publicly traded institution is led by Steven Koh, chairman, and Soo Bong Min, president and CEO.

The inroad comes with a $200,000 purchase of the charter of Arlington National Bank, pending regulatory approval. Cho says Wilshire is buying the charter, but not the locations from State National Bancshares, which bought Arlington National Bank’s holding company in April.

“A full-service banking charter allows us to greatly expand our Texas presence, including the ability to gather deposits and provide loans for consumers,” Min said in a press release. “We have been successful building mutually beneficial banking relationships in the multi-ethnic community of Southern California and we are looking to broaden our reach to new markets with thriving international business communities. Dallas is an excellent fit.”

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