09/01/2013 23:24:00

Hanmi Financial in Talks on Potential Sale or Merger

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By Debbie Cai

Hanmi Financial Corp. (HAFC), parent of California's Hanmi Bank, confirmed it is in talks to explore strategic options including a potential merger or sale.

The company said it has retained DelMorgan & Co. as its adviser and plans to continue substantive discussions with certain strategic banks and bank-holding companies on options. It said no definitive terms or agreements have been reached and didn't give further details.

Hanmi Financial operates commercial banking and financial services through its subsidiary Hanmi Bank, the second-largest U.S. bank catering to Korean-Americans.

Less than two years ago, Hanmi canceled the sale of a majority stake to Woori Finance Holdings Co. (WF), a deal that would have given South Korea's largest financial services group by assets control of the U.S.-based Hanmi. Instead, the companies entered a business alliance.

In November, Hanmi's chief financial officer Lonny Robinson resigned and his duties are being handled in the interim by Chief Strategy Officer Shick Yoon.

Hanmi Financial in its recent third quarter reported that its net income more than tripled to $13.3 million as asset quality improved and the company became more efficient. It has also benefited from a reversal of deferred tax asset valuation allowance, adding $4.9 million to offset its tax obligation for the quarter.

Shares of the company were halted after hours. The stock jumped 8.1% to $15.26 in regular-session trading following media reports that Hanmi Financial was looking to sell itself. The stock is up 89% over the past 12 months.

Write to Debbie Cai at debbie.cai@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 09, 2013 18:24 ET (23:24 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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